Monday, November 12, 2007
On This Veterans Day
i'm a "rocket kid." that's what we called ourselves, those of us who grew up in brevard county, home of kennedy space center, during the height of our commitment to space exploration. on the upside, we were blessed with the best that the government could provide -- brand new schools, public school teachers with phd's -- to go along with our brand new homes, new roads and new courthouses. on the downside, we were told that there was the highest concentration of spies in the country, that there were soviet ships off shore, that we were on the priority target list in the event of a nuclear attack. it's no wonder we never learned "duck and cover."
so it was no surprise, or not much of one, when my gifted classmate wayne joined the marines after college. it was a surprise when he returned in a box. wayne died in the beirut barracks bombing, almost 20 years before george w. bush ever thought about terrorism, or recognized it as a threat to the country.
today marks the official celebration of veterans day. in the past, i would have celebrated veterans day by remembering my friend wayne, his wife susan, and their (then young) daughter, as well as the other veterans who died for our country. since we invaded iraq, though, i mark each each veterans day with a countdown -- it's one less year that they can call my wife back to active duty.
my wife, for those who don't know, is a retired navy senior chief. she still has a few years left on the individual ready reserve (irr), and so far has not been one of the hundreds called back to service because they had a desired skillset. my wife denies it, but i know that she has one of those skillsets. periodically, my wife gets official communication from the department of defense. less so now, but these scare me. i always make mrs. bored open them up right away. i insist upon it.
our president may not understand this, but war effects the entire nation. he may have asked that we "return to normal" after 9/11, but he's made that more difficult for millions of american families. this president has never explained his thinking, or given us a set of goals that he intended to achieve, or an exit strategy that would allow us to judge for ourselves the success or failure of his military moves. nor can one believe our admirals and generals about the length of tours -- or time at home -- because of the erratic decision-making of this president.
thousands of americans have died -- and more americans have died as the result of this president's military decisions than died as a result of terrorists' -- and tens of thousands have been wounded. thousands more come home with emotional wounds, wounds that may never heal. millions of american families are in worse shape than ours -- they are on edge, hoping that their fathers, husbands, sons and brothers, mothers, wives, daughters and sisters, grandchildren or neices or nephews will come home -- or not be returned to the battlefield.
president bush may not realize this. other americans may never think about it. but i remember. on this day (actually, yesterday), i hope you will, too...