Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Questions on Veterans Day

Are we treating our troops fairly? That question persists. If the American public experiences generally no sacrifice what so ever in connection with the fact of being at war now for eight years, how could we say that is fair to the soldiers and their families? Are they the only Americans we are willing to ask to sacrifice?

Historically our citizens were asked to sacrifice when we were at war. Try to think of one single sacrifice which you have made since 2001 if you are not in the military or a military family. Bought any war bonds? Experienced any rationing; sugar, tires, meat, gasoline? Has any of your family been subject to being drafted to fight in our wars? Has your Congressman or Senator had sons or daughters or grandchildren exposed to being drafted for war? ...or any of the children of the board members of IBM, General Electric, General Dynamics, DuPont, Boeing, Lockheed, Kraft, or Ford? No. What sacrifices have they made on Wall Street for the wars? This is an insult to our troops...a smack in the face! As they suffer the most horrible conditions of war, can you imagine their thoughts about whether the people back home know or care?

What kinds of options are available for our troops? Does the nation provide higher educational opportunities for lower income citizens? Are other jobs and careers readily available? Is training available for professional and skilled jobs for those with little resources? Was joining the military their only way up?

During the American Revolution, General Washington as well as other commanders faced the daunting task of persuading soldiers to remain on the battle field when their enlistments expired. By the thousands their enlistment expiration dates would arrive. Washington faced the possibility of loosing half of his army on a single day. The soldiers decision was compounded by the fact that their pay was sporadic at best. Some were never paid. Some paid only after the war. Their families were suffering from lack of income. Wives, friends, and family tried to keep food on the tables. What a terrible choice for a soldier. But they saw it as "the glorious cause" and enough decided to fight on for eight long years to win independence. It was their choice.

Perhaps...since the American public is so reluctant to make any sacrifices for our present wars...we should consider limiting our wars to those with "a glorious cause". Limit our wars to the ones where on the question of sacrifice, it is obvious what course we should take.

On this Veterans Day we should think about what it means that we are willing to ask others to make sacrifices which we ourselves are unwilling to make or to participate in.

No comments: