Saturday, July 4, 2009


How many men and women have laid down their lives for you? How many people have given the ultimate gift, made the supreme sacrifice, so that you may enjoy your freedom? Many more than you might think, I guarantee. I am now and will always be eternally grateful for their bravery. We all should be. And we should all take time out of our harried, busy lives, to thank those around us who serve. Those who sign up to defend our country, knowing full well that their signature binds them to complete service. That their signature could mean deployment, battle, and yes, even death.

What I struggle with understanding are the deaths that didn't need to happen. That could have been prevented. That should have been prevented. The fights that we shouldn't have been in. The lives given for questionable reasons. For politically motivated battles, the ones never fully legitimized in the eyes of the world. There is a line, a time and place where most people can agree that war is the final determining answer. Attacks like the one on Pearl Harbor and the genocide of entire race of people - acts like this cross that line easily and clearly. But everything else leading up to that line is a gray area.

Some people will argue that it is inconsistent to say that one supports our troops and simultaneously question the motivations of their commanders. I wholeheartedly disagree. The soldiers are doing their job, doing as they are ordered. They deserve 100% of our support. They should be taken care of, financially, physically and mentally, upon their return. Their families deserve adequate support. They should not be forced into battle without proper equipment, not in a day and age where it exists. We need to train them not just to fight, but to be human when they come home. And if they need help, we need to help them. As a society, we need to do a better job, and we need to demand that our government does a better job.

It is abhorrent what happened to the men who returned from Vietnam. Sent to fight, brought home to a life they no longer recognized. Many of them had lost the ability to live a normal life, and there was not enough help here for them to recover that ability. The statistics of homelessness in the veteran population are disturbing to say the least. And the health care is woefully inadequate. I fear that the men and women returning from the Middle East may face the same challenges. I hope that they don't have to. I hope we can do better for them.

Has our government always been prudent about sending troops to fight? I would argue that the answer is no. We hastily went after the wrong target, letting the one we really need to focus on escape us. And in doing so, we embroiled ourselves, our troops, in a war for the wrong reasons. And far too may of them have not come home. Men, women, sons, daughters, fathers, mothers, friends, all of them. Gone, but not forgotten.

I urge everyone to really think about that on this Independence Day. Think about what it takes for us to live the lives we are fortunate enough to have. Think about the choices, the sacrifices made to ensure that. And thank a soldier. Our freedom comes with a price.

Too close to home, a life was lost early in the war. Mike DiRaimondo was one of TJ's best friends. He was a medic in a Blackhawk helicopter that crashed outside Fallujah, Iraq in January 2004. At the age of 22, he was gone. Thanks, Mike, from all of us.

1 comment:

  1. Kelly -- nice post! I'll chime in with a few comments. As a veteran myself, there is one piece of conventional patriotic propaganda that sets me off -- that we die or fight or serve for our freedom. There have only been two wars fought for "our" freedom -- the Revolution and the Civil War. Everything else was in the name of conquest or for the freedom OF OTHERS. Yet we are programmed to say "our" freedom as gospal.

    One more thing, when we sign up we take an oath to protect and defend the constitution -- which states that only Congress has the power to declare war, making everything post WWII unconstitional. Dont even get me started on torture and holding civilians indefinetly without habeus corpus. How is that defending the constitution?

    Third and final point -- notice that those who cry for war are the ones who sit comfortably on the sidelines and send other peoples children to fight -- especially those from the lower class who have no other economic oppurtunity.


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