Memorial Day 2008 - Support Our Military Troops and Veterans
Published 5/26/08 (Modified 3/8/11)
Well it's the long Memorial Day weekend again. Not only is this annual occasion significant to me because it always occurs around the same time as my birthday, it's also one of the important federal holidays set aside by our United States government to honor those men and women of past and present who laid down their lives during the course of their great service to our country. As the grand puba of all knowledge, the great Wikipedia notes that Memorial Day was originally enacted to honor the northern Union soldiers after the American Civil War but has been enlarged to cover all American military casualties of any war or military action.
This post today is not meant to be a political statement. In fact, I hold rather neutral opinions about the U.S. government's positions and the U.S. military's actions in the ongoing war in the Middle East. I'm neither supportive, nor am I really against it. I'm not a military strategist, nor am I a foreign policy buff. While I watch and follow CNN, MSNBC, and Fox News, and have developed my own viewpoints like any other guy, I don't claim to know the answers. So I leave the big foreign policy and homeland defense decisions to the elected bigwigs in Washington D.C. While my foreign policy views are both non committal and neutral, when it comes to supporting our patriotic troops, I'm in it 100%. I think they deserve our full support and admiration, and that includes past veterans, present troops coming back home, and future military personnel who have yet to enter the line of duty.
Our Military Soldiers Are Real People With Real Stories - And Not Just Faceless Statistics
Shortly after law school and my judicial clerkship with a trial court judge, I obtained a job to work as an appellate attorney at the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs in Washington D.C. While I was there I was exposed to the countless stories and lives of the many men and women who fought and sacrificed for our country during her times of need. Because I handled appeals stemming from military service connection and disability rating claims for veterans, I spent my working days reading and becoming intimately aware of war time realities and shared tragedies of our past veterans. While not all injuries or medical ailments sustained by military disability claimants were during the course of an armed conflict overseas, many were. For those who think the current soldiers fighting in the Iraqi and Afghanistan conflict today are sustaining significant casualties or massive injuries, the numbers pale in comparison to the devastating number of lives and limbs lost during past major wars - most notably during the Vietnam War.
The Vietnam War era was a terrible time in our history. Many of the soldiers came back with not only physical bodily damage from lost limbs, impaired sensory organs, or Agent Orange herbicide related diseases, a large number developed post traumatic stress syndrome after having witnessed all sorts of psychologically disturbing wartime brutality overseas. Much of today's neighborhood to neighborhood close quarters combat experiences in the troubled areas of the Middle East are censored and filtered out by our sanitized television, print, and governmental media so that much of the information never reaches the American public. But as someone who has worked closely with such personal stories and accounts of battles and military engagements during my time of processing veteran disability claims, I've learned to greatly appreciate the sacrifices our fighting forces have made for our great nation.
While due to the backlogged and procedural nature of veteran disability cases, and due to the way past injuries and diseases tend to deteriorate over time, many of the appeals cases I handled arose from veterans who served honorably in wars as far back as the Vietnam War and World War II. At the time I was working at the Department of Veteran Affairs in Washington D.C., the war against terrorist forces in Afghanistan and later the invasion and occupation/liberation of Iraq (depending on how you look at it) had not resulted in a significant influx of wartime injuries or casualties yet. But since I've left the agency, I know the federal department is now facing a huge rush of returning soldiers from this new war our country is fighting. I can only hope we all continue to throw our admiration and support for our American military men and women as they dutifully do their part in helping to keep this country safe and protect our interests worldwide.
Supporting Our Troops and Veterans Is Not A Political Statement, But A Show Of Respect For The Honorable Sacrifices Made By Those Who Came and Served Before Us
I think many people and anti-war supporters seem to adopt the suggestive notion that somehow acknowledging verbal or written support for our fighting troops and veterans equates to an agreement or condonement of the current George W. Bush foreign policy or political decisions made regarding the nation's fight against terrorism in the Middle East. Far from it. I support our troops and want to honor their actions because they are putting their lives in harms way for citizens and even non citizens living in the United States like you and I. While some of the soldiers had a choice, others had their choices made for them. I doubt most of the Army, Navy, Air Force, and soldiers from the Marines really wanted to fight abroad, but they made a noble commitment to serve their country should they be called upon to do so. They are simply doing their job and trying to do it the best they can, amidst the political maneuverings in Congress and the White House, the election season wrangling between the Democrats and Republicans, and amidst the dangerous sectarian violence that still plagues the Middle East.
So as we all sit within the comforts, shelter, and protection of our own nation's borders, let's not forget the fighting men and women who are still out there doing their jobs, putting their futures and lives on stake for you and I. While we all worry about less life threatening and comparatively petty matters closer to home such as rising gas prices, savings accounts, Roth IRA's, credit scores, and credit card bills, there are young and old committed military families out there who just want their fathers, sons, and even moms and daughters to come back home in one piece. You don't have to support the war to support our troops. You don't even have to wave an American flag high or wear an American flag pin on your suit collar to support our troops. All you have to do is honor the sacrifices made by our past and present veterans in your hearts, and give them all the courtesy, admiration, and respect deserved by those who have served their country dutifully in a time of need. So while we all take this three day Memorial Day weekend to go on a road trip to visit the beach, or see our friends and family, remember, someone out there needs your thoughts and prayers.