Monday, May 31, 2004

Memorial Day

As we all know, this is the holiday where Americans celebrate our military and the sacrifices they made (and make) to ensure our security.
My dad is a W.W.II veteran, decorated with a Purple Heart for getting shot, a Silver Star for showing heroism in combat, and a slew of other medals for various acts of being a good soldier.
He returned from the war shell-shocked, partially deaf and he still cannot stand the sound of thunder or fireworks.
Dad never discussed his time in the war as I was growing up. Only in the last few years did he discuss the war at all, after he saw the movie, "Saving Private Ryan." Even then, all he said was, "The movie had some flaws, the biggest being officers in the field wearing their ensignias and being saluted."
Dad said if his guys saluted a lieutenant or captain in the field, Nazi snipers would pick them off faster than you could say, "at ease."

My city, San Antonio, is a military town filled with Air Force bases and Ft. Sam Houston, a big Army Post.
My sister retired as an Army Major. They begged her to stay in and accept a commission as a lieutenant colonel, but she'd had enough. My late husband was a Navy veteran. My brother served in the Texas National Guard during the Vietnam era, but unlike George W. Bush, he actually attended all his meetings and served out his entire tour of duty.

Today, I join everyone in honoring those who served and those who serve.
You see, I'm a liberal Democrat but I'm not anti military.
Any great nation needs a strong defense, including ours. Sometimes we need to fight.

I could understand sending troops to Afghanistan, but not to Iraq.

The president spoke at the recent dedication of the WW II Memorial in Washington. He filled the air with platitudes and praise for the old veterans, but he didn't mention that neither he nor the vice president served in the military.
He didn't mention that starting a war involves committing troops, and that putting their lives in harm's way calls for the most precise, carefully researched reasons for presidents to engage in war.
He didn't mention that rushing to war in Iraq was based on faulty intelligence and the word of an Arab guy named Chilabi who had less street cred than Huggy Bear did on "Starsky and Hutch."
He didn't mention the more than 800 American souls lost to his hasty rush to war, nor did he mention more lives being lost by the day.
He didn't mention Osama Bin Laden still being at large somewhere far away from Iraq.

John Kerry attended the dedication, too.
As a wounded Vietnam veteran, much decorated for heroism, he knows firsthand the horrors of war.
He returned from battle and marched against the war. He had that right.
Decades later, then-Secretary of Defense Robert McNamera wrote a book in which he agreed with Kerry. He said that war was a protracted nightmare we couldn't win.

Now we are at war in a region where we are not wanted.
We went to war for reasons that turned out to be untrue.
Experts say it is a war we cannot win.

Bush wants to stay the course, yet experts say the course was paved on lies and remains undefined, undermanned and undersupplied.
Bush thinks bombs and bullets will show America's will and cause the Iraqis to stop fighting back and behave like he wants them to. He calls it "establishing a democracy."
But people in his family don't do the actual fighting, and the democracy he's trying to force on them is not very democratic.
Kerry wants a rapid troop withdrawal, international cooperation in stabilizing the region and to create peace through diplomacy, not bullets.

Kerry understands war because he's fought in war.
Bush doesn't, because he didn't.

I think the biggest gift we can give our veterans this holiday is to pray for peace, and elect a president who honors our armed forces by understanding they should be deployed only as a last resort, not used like the tin soldiers little rich boys like Bush played with as children.

Happy Memorial Day to all the veterans out there.
Thanks for protecting us.

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