Veteran’s Day. I was just having lunch in a hotel restaurant/pub when Larry Holmes, former heavyweight champion of the world, comes in and sits at the bar. That is pretty cool. But then three young marines comes in for a drink, and Larry gives them a big shout out and pays there tab. Even cooler.
As a vet myself (though I didn’t see combat) my 10 years in the military convinced me that the vast majority of people who serve do so for all the right reasons. So whatever you may think of the current wars we are fighting, you should honor and appreciate the vets out there.
When I think about the soldiers I knew who were injured in combat, and I think of the families in my town who lost a son or a husband or a father in Iraq or Afghanistan I think about how they have sacrificed for the ideal of defending freedom. That sacrifice deserves respect from all of us, but especially from the nation’s leaders. No American should be sent to risk their life in combat that is not clearly in defense of American freedom or American lives. I admit that it not always easy to do, and have heard many good arguments that our troops in Iraq and Afghanistan are defending America in a concrete way. And I think at the beginning of both wars that was true. But I don’t think it is true any longer. We have passed the point in both countries where we are clearly defending ourselves against a present threat and instead are pursuing some vague prophylactic mission with a vision of heading off future attacks. Defending ourselves against prospective threats is a good guide to intelligence and diplomatic efforts, but not to combat. Things need to be a lot crisper, clearer and more immediate to justify the killing and dying.
Our missions in Iraq and Afghanistan have way attenuated past the point where it makes sense to sacrifice more lives and limbs. Lets wind it up over there and bring the troops home and let them return to preparing for defending freedom in America.