Monday, May 30, 2011

Memorial Day: Remembering Iraq War Vets

It's always tough to find the right words to describe (what at least should be) our collective gratitude to the men and women who have defended our U.S. way of life both here and abroad for nearly 250 years now.

I.e., my late dad--a "Naval" Marine commanding a battery of big guns on the U.S.S. Bunker Hill--fired away at kamikaze Zeroes near the end of WWII. But he and his fellow combatants still had to endure the literal heat of battle as at least 4 of the fuel-lade kamikazes managed to crash into the Bunker Hill's flight deck, burning hundreds of sailors and marines to death and nearly sinking this great carrier. But both the living and the dead aboard the Bunker Hill were only a few among the tens, the hundreds of thousands of American heroes who saved us from the relentless drive of totalitarianism.

What can you really say about heroism like this except to sit back in awe and wonder at the kind of dedication that inspired this inner and outward courage?

Today, we can easily forget how we gained and retained our freedom at great cost. Most of us, this writer included, never had to face a barrage of kamikazes; or a war in the jungles of Vietnam where death could arise without warning from jungle trees or tunnels or by the hands of a Vietnamese woman or child secretly bringing a grenade to a friendly Yank's campfire; or an unendingly hostile and complex desert hell in a hostile Middle Eastern country where we attempted to introduce the radical idea of democracy.

It's this last (and still not-quite-finished) war that Walter Russell Mead discusses online today. Aside from paying slightly too much courtesy toward liberal pieties, I think he offers a lengthy, well-reasoned, and inspirational assessment of what political and military courage really takes on a day when we all should pause to remember. One of his major observations:
While the politicians washed their hands and hung up white flags, and while the press lords gibbered and foamed, the brass kept their heads and the troops stood tall.  And gradually, a miracle happened.  America started winning the war.
Click the link above to read the entire piece.

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