Friday, April 13, 2007

America is not at war

I really should be in bed, but . . . some random thoughts first.

I attended a Holocaust remembrance today after work. Two really outstanding features of that. The first was the narrative presented by the speaker, one of the first four Americans to breach the wire at Buchenwald. I suppose he's in his 80's now. His gentleness was striking. His memories heartbreaking. His outrage at what he found there still fresh. His bride of 60 years was there with him--that says enough. Very small group of us there to hear him. And I'm glad I went. Second treat of that event was the trio that played before, in the middle, and after. Violin, accordion, bass. Worth going to hear either one.

And seeing the 3-star there reminded me of something he said the other day that I could write about for a long time, but won't tonight. "America is not at war. America's military is." And is, and is, and is. In more places than any of my civilian friends even know. And against some of the same evils that today's speaker fought. The great failure of the current campaign is not so much that it exists, but that people have forgotten why it exists, and that forgetting has enabled or necessitated, depending on how you look at it, its half-hearted prosecution. So it goes.

Lastly, I was having lunch with my daughter the other day. I picked her up at school and we made a quick trip to Panera Bread. Because I came from work and had to return to work, I was dressed for work. As we were leaving, an older gentleman and his wife said simply, "Thanks for your service." It's my honor to serve, but it still touches my heart every time I hear that. How is it that we're getting that right this time around? Whatever a civilian's position on the Global War on Terror, the troops are still embraced. An all volunteer force this time, yet we get thanked for prosecuting a less and less "popular" (an odd word to apply to that which follows, no matter how you cut it) war; whereas, a largely draftee and reluctant force was spat upon when they returned from an endeavor they had little choice in. Don't misunderstand--I am always grateful and touched by the acknowledgement. But it always makes me want to find one of those guys with the Vietnam campaign ribbon on a jacket, or in a car window, or on a license tag and hand that acknowledgement over to him with interest. Those men and women are overdue.