Being at a meeting in Budapest leaves me a bit detached from thinking about Memorial Day. I looked back over what I have written before. Scary that both so much and so little has changed in the last five years….
31 May 2004, Monday – Memorial and Memories. Camp Doha, Kuwait
It is Memorial Day.
A time to reflect on those who have given their lives in defense of their country. A time, around the world, when military members should visit the graves of those buried in foreign soil. A time for us to remember; not to forget the cost of conflicts, battles, and wars.
In May of 2003, there were 27 different incidents resulting in one or more soldiers losing their lives in Iraq. This was just the month after the “War” was ended. In May of 2004, there were 43 such incidents, ranging from IEDs to bullets, that killed soldiers/sailors/airmen or marines.
We have seen men and women from all walks of life, religion, ethnic backgrounds, and rank die in this operation. No one wants to die, that is a given. But we have an incredible number of brave, uniformed personnel who believe in our country.
In past conflicts, we didn’t have the communications; we didn’t see the daily carnage. By broadcasting it, I think we have trivialized the sacrifice service members make, and make bleaker the future faced by their families.
I think it was clear, in the 1700s, the reason for our war; it was fought on our land, for independence. In 1812, WWI, WWII, Korea, we as a people, felt the reasons were valid, we did not start the conflicts, so accepted the responsibility and the war.
It became harder in Viet Nam to stay focused, to know what we were doing, and what was right. We had over 55,000 die in that conflict, all years, and countries combined. We have added since then: to the deaths, to those left behind.
None of this is to say that there should not be honor given to those who did what they were asked, and more.
Rather, our leadership needs to be worthy of the sacrifice our men and women are making for our country. And to make sure that it is in the name of freedom. That there are no other options, and that the civilian leadership puts the cost in lives clearly in their minds.
We honor the dead of this war, and the previous wars.
We should do them honor. The purpose of war is peace, that we may not battle in the future – that the swords may become plowshares.