Veterans Day Poignant This Year
- 1 December 2006 by Author 0 Comments
Veterans Day Poignant This Year
By Richard Larsen
Published – Idaho State Journal, 12/1/2006
Throughout the history of our young republic, millions of men and women have been willing to sacrifice all for the preservation of liberties, freedom, and safety of all Americans.
Veterans Day represents the official acknowledgement of a grateful country for those who are willing to sacrifice their personal interests in favor of the collective benefit derived by the rest of us. And this Veterans Day a couple of weeks ago was especially poignant for me after receiving a letter from my nephew Jim who just completed his second tour of duty in Iraq with the Marines. He expressed his sentiment for the day of observance, writing “I am saddened that this holiday gets overlooked more often than not. Today of all days we should take a moment to reflect upon the sacrifices others have made that we can live in the world we now have. The veterans of this great nation that have fought and bled on foreign soil deserve our respect, support, and devotion.”
Jim’s expressions put in perspective the sacrifices of those in uniform for our liberties and safety, and by so doing, demands more than one day a year for recognition of their service, dedication, and sacrifice.
Contextually, the belittling comments of Senator John Kerry directed toward our current military personnel, are inscrutable. He said recently, “Education, if you make the most of it, you study hard, you do your homework and you make an effort to be smart, you can do well. And if you don’t, you get stuck in Iraq.” While initially explained away as a botched joke, then lashing out at those critical of his remarks claimed it was an attack on President Bush for sending troops to Iraq, it seems to me a Freudian slip showing the disdain and contempt many in this country have for our men and women in uniform.
It was Kerry and his comrades who were so critical of the detainee treatment at Abu Ghraib and used the events there to further denounce our military, and broadly condemn the whole for the actions of a few. Even more perplexing because leading a naked man around with a collar and a leash would probably be considered a date in Nancy Pelosi’s San Francisco!
Providing even greater insights to the incredible accomplishments of our military in Iraq, my nephews letter continues, “As a two-time veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom, I want everyone to know how I feel. The mission in Iraq may be unclear to some, but not to those of us that (sic) have been there. When a woman comes out of her home and bows at your feet and weeps, wiping her tears on your blood-stained boots, suddenly everything becomes very clear. There is an overwhelming majority of Iraqi citizens that are grateful for our accomplishments over there and the way their country is being reborn. You can’t change an entire culture and way of life of brutality and religious fanaticism in 3 years. It will take time. The ONLY people fighting against these changes are the ones that have lost their power after the fall of Saddam. There are millions of law-abiding Muslims in Iraq that want us there to continue to fight against these wicket people (which are a miniscule minority).”
Our efforts in Iraq are not just about eliminating threats to our security, they are about human dignity, self-determination, and the security of 25 million Iraqis. What a shame if we were to lose our resolve to stabilize the area, and manifest our lack of respect of Iraqi human life by exiting prior to stabilization. Perhaps the most apropos comparison to Vietnam is the vacuum that would be created by our premature departure, with the concomitant loss of millions of Iraqi lives resulting therefrom.
Jim concludes his letter with wise counsel. “Smell the clean air, take a drink of tap water, watch your garbage men take your trash away, watch road crews repair your daily commute, watch your children play in a park without fear, watch people take a Sunday drive just for fun without fear, watch the hundreds of different religions do their various things on the weekend, watch an ambulance take someone to a fully functioning hospital, watch an honest police man cruise through your neighborhood…remember all the things we take for granted every single day. Think of what a difference we are making for the less fortunate.”
As touching as these insights are from one of our brave marines, nothing brought me to tears quite like the close to his letter. It was signed simply, Semper Fidelis, the Marines motto, meaning ever faithful. Perhaps we as a society need the same core conviction.
Richard Larsen is President of Larsen Financial, a brokerage and financial planning firm in Pocatello, and is a graduate of Idaho State University with a BA in Political Science and History and former member of the Idaho State Journal Editorial Board. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.