Decoration Day; yes that is what they called it when I was growing up. Now it is Memorial Day. My earliest recollections of Decoration Day were as a child riding my bike past the VFW (Veterans of Foreign Wars) Legion Hall in Collingswood N.J. and spotting a parade. We all went to WT Grants and bought some red,white and blue crape paper ribbon and decorated our bikes and attached the obligatory baseball card with a clothespin so we sounded the part and joined the parade. What a thrill that was for a 9 year old. We marched (rode) past he VFW Hall with its’ wood wheeled cannons displayed on either side of the front walk along with the obligatory stack of cannon balls all carefully welded into a neat pile and painted black like the barrels on the guns. Old soldiers marched and local school bands played while we cycled alongside in no particular formation like a gaggle of discordant geese, buzzing like bumblebees with our baseball cards flapping wheel spokes. Lots of bystanders watched and others sold paper poppies. The poppy pins are not seen much any more, nor are the overt displays of patriotism. Not like 1954 when every small or large town had a bunch of GI’s back from the Big One. Poppy Pin sales went to support Veterans things like support for widows and their children.
I come to this Memorial Day with mixed emotions. I am having a difficult time separating Honor and Service, which certainly deserve our utmost respect, with the use to which our men and women are asked to serve by an increasingly ( I am having trouble finding words here) corrupt/disingenuous set of politicians from which our servicemen must bear direction.
Before someone takes offense with my words I will post my credentials here: my perspective is one of growing up with a WWII/Korea war hero (Silver and Bronze Stars) and my own service of 8 plus years during Viet Nam.
The reason I am writing this is to help me sort out my disconnects. I am a father of a 20 something son who would join the Military in a heart beat. He has no concept of Rules of Engagement and who calls the shots on which his life depends. What respectable parent would happily send his child off to another discretionary conflict with no clear rules to follow and no commitment in place to make a short game of it? Would you trust your child’s life with the likes of GWB, J. Kerry, B. Obama or any number of other half baked politicians found in today’s Washington D.C.? Further, what caring parent commits a child to a Military steeped in more politics than warfare, more featherbedding than concern for the Nations Children? My short answer is to tell my son that he should join in the line to sign up and take the spot just behind the likes of every rich and famous person’s progeny that have never served their country. Only after all of Hollywood Children go will I support his going. This family gave at the office.
We do not fight wars any longer. A war is something that happens when a terrible enemy is eminent and threatening national obliteration. Such was WWI and WWII. Not so in Korea, Viet Nam, Iraq and Afghanistan. You and I can discuss a war on terror. If we were committed to it we would have wiped out Wahhabi training schools, nests of resources committed to doing US harm and operating in areas that are politically inconvenient to operate in and many more areas of endeavor which are at present inconvenient to do. My sense is that we are selling our children into a blender.
The litmus test for service in my books is a succinct one. Is Sovereignty threatened? If yes, then do your leaders have skin in the game? If you cannot answer yes to both then you are a placing your life at risk with limited potential for return.
Whenever I get disgusted with Washington and politics I always ask myself if those I am voting for would stand the same tests that Washington, Jefferson et. al. withstood? Character and commitment. A quote attributed to Ben Franklin went something like this: “If we all fail to hang together on this revolution, then surely we will hang separately”. I pray we find the character of these gentlemen to find our way back.
Thanks for reading my Blog. Best, Chas W5PG