Memorial Day 2011. A day in which we Americans remember and honor our nation’s sacrificed children. We remember the warriors — fathers, daughters, siblings –who have sacrificed their lives in the pursuit of seemingly “noble and necessary causes.”
Millions more are currently being trained for war, fighting abroad, and dying right now. What about those that survive? The marred brothers & sisters who come home missing limbs and ravaged by debilitating psychological problems like PTSD?
Great articles written in answer to those questions:
(Courtesy of the amazing news curator Reader Supported News)
Honor the troops by bringing them home – The Cap Times
“It is unfortunate but true that this Memorial Day — when we pause to honor those Americans who have fought the good fights against British colonialism, the sin of slavery and the menace of fascism — is marred by the painful reality that U.S. troops are currently bogged down in a lingering mess of George Bush’s creation in Iraq and a quagmire of George Bush’s creation in Afghanistan.
Appallingly, Barack Obama has maintained these undeclared wars of occupation. And he has now steered the United States into another fight with Libya.
The soldiers involved in these fights are good men and women. But these are not good fights. Nor are they necessary fights for the U.S. military.
There are arguments to be made, some of them sound, some of them not, that people in Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya have reasons to be fighting. But the fights are their own — not America’s.
The cynicism of the previous administration, which was led by a president whose family pulled strings to keep him out of the Vietnam War and a vice president who dodged the draft five times during that conflict, was beyond contempt. But so too is the cynicism of many Democrats, who, despite their disdain for the failed foreign policies of George Bush and Dick Cheney, continue to echo the empty rhetoric of the administration when it comes to the debate about how best to end the war.
The best way to “support the troops” who have been placed in harm’s way in Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya is to bring them home.
Congress considered the prospect last week and more than 200 members of the House voted for a proposal to begin taking steps to exit Afghanistan. Unfortunately, a few more members opposed that necessary step.
The growing opposition to the misguided mission in Afghanistan, as well as the clear opposition to any expansion of the Libya mission, is encouraging.
America is growing weary of endless war.
Wars of whim, fought without congressional authorization and without exit strategies, are not fights for democracy.
Fights for democracy can only be considered successful when American democracy is open and vibrant enough to allow for a realistic discussion of the nation’s circumstance. Those “my-country-right-or-wrong” politicians and pundits who would shut down dissent on Memorial Day, or any other day, make a mockery of the oath to defend the U.S. Constitution, which protects the right to speak truth to power and to assemble for the purpose of petitioning for the redress of grievances.
The Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s Vietnam War-era counsel to Americans holds true this Memorial Day. Americans who love their country and its promise must move beyond “the prophesying of smooth patriotism” toward “a firm dissent based upon the mandates of conscience and the reading of history.”
No honest reading of the history of America’s founding, or of recent events, can lead to a conclusion that the current wars of whim are justified.
Americans have fought and died in pursuit of noble and necessary causes. It is right to celebrate their memory. But it is right, as well, to recognize that not all wars are noble and necessary. And when a war is not justified, it is time to honor the troops by bringing them home.”
How America Screws Its Soldiers – The Daily Beast
“… In the eyes of citizens, the American soldier has a dual identity: as hero but also as victim. As victims—Wounded Warriors —soldiers deserve the best care money can buy; hence, the emphasis being paid to issues like PTSD. As heroes, those who serve and sacrifice embody the virtues that underwrite American greatness. They therefore merit unstinting admiration.
Even if the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq are not especially popular or successful, no one blames the troops. Instead we cheer them, pray for them, and let them go to the front of the line when passing through airport security. And we take considerable satisfaction in doing so.
From the perspective of those who engineer America’s wars, the principal attribute of this relationship is that it obviates any need for accountability. For nearly a decade now, popular willingness to “support the troops” has provided unlimited drawing rights on the United States Treasury.
Since 9/11, in waging its various campaigns, overt and covert, the United States military has expended hundreds of billions of (mostly borrowed) dollars. By the time the last invoice gets paid, the total will be in the trillions. Is the money being well spent? Are we getting good value? Is it possible that some of the largesse showered on U.S. forces trying to pacify Kandahar could be better put to use in helping to rebuild Cleveland? Given the existing terms of the civil-military relationship, even to pose such questions is unseemly. For politicians sending soldiers into battle, generals presiding over long, drawn-out, inconclusive campaigns, and contractors reaping large profits as a consequence, this war-comes-first mentality is exceedingly agreeable.
One wonders how many of those serving in the ranks are taken in by this fraud. The relationship between American people and their military—we love you; do whatever you want—seems to work for everyone. Everyone, that is, except soldiers themselves. They face the prospect of war without foreseeable end.
Americans once believed war to be a great evil. Whenever possible, war was to be avoided. When circumstances made war unavoidable, Americans wanted peace swiftly restored.
Present-day Americans, few of them directly affected by events in Iraq or Afghanistan, find war tolerable. They accept it. Since 9/11, war has become normalcy. Peace has become an entirely theoretical construct. A report of G.I.s getting shot at, maimed, or killed is no longer something the average American gets exercised about. Rest assured that no such reports will interfere with plans for the long weekend that Memorial Day makes possible. …”
What the Soldiers themselves are saying about their predicament:
(The following is a statement from veterans and active-duty troops in the amazing Veteran Rights organization March Forward!)
Soldiers speak out on Memorial Day: “Remember Sgt. Kirkland! No more deaths from Wall Street’s wars!”SPC Joseph Chroniger“My good friend Derrick Kirkland was deployed to Iraq and was going through more than just a difficult time. He was found in his room in Iraq with a shotgun in his mouth about to pull the trigger. Derrick was sent home, and attempted suicide on that day as well. Upon reaching Fort Lewis he was hospitalized, and almost immediately cleared for active duty. When he reported to rear detachment he was met with more hatred than malcontent. There where numerous people in the room when he was humiliated and basically beat down emotionally. Not three days later Derrick hung himself in the barracks room that he was given by himself. Let me repeat: my suicidal friend was given a room in the barracks to himself. There are many more instances of what I would call more that misconduct that I have witnessed while in the service of this Battalion, and want to speak out. I demand justice for Kirkland and his family.”
SSG Kevin Baker
“Our lives do not matter to the officers and politicians in charge. Those who mocked Kirkland, and the doctors who neglected him still go unpunished. They are going on with their lives while Kirkland’s family is without their loved one. But Kirkland’s case is not isolated. The abusive behavior that is thrown onto us is organic to the military; it is organic because this military fights for a lie. We in March Forward! will fight for justice for Kirkland and all other soldiers with PTSD, but we will also fight to make sure no more of us are traumatized in the first place by being sent to these wars based on lies. I demand justice for Kirkland and an immediate end to these wars for profit.”
SPC Andrew Bussy“There is a serious problem with the US Army medical care system. The problem is not with financial coverage, as most any visit to the doctor is paid for, but with the quality of care and of the many stigmas which are attached to seeking treatment. Physicians prescribe medicines which only mask the symptoms, but if a condition is not immediately life-threatening it goes unaddressed until it worsens. Sadly, when a suicidal soldier’s situation “worsens,” he is dead; When a soldier with a spinal injury “worsens,” he is irrevocably paralyzed. These are the end results when our only goal for wounded soldiers is to get them back to work. I demand justice for Kirkland and all wounded soldiers.”
God Bless America and The Rest of The World. May we abandon these corrupt imperialist wars immediately and bring all of our troops home. May we re-focus and re-invest on lifting our country from its crumbled ruins.
“Why do you notice the splinter in your brother´s eye, but do not perceive the wooden beam in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ´Let me remove that splinter from your eye, while the wooden beam is in your eye? You hypocrite, remove the wooden beam from your eye first; then you will see clearly to remove the splinter from your brother´s eye.” – Jesus Christ Superstar