Thursday, March 25, 2010

"Bottom Line Up Front"

I have never served in the military but I have a deep respect for those who put their lives -- and the "lives" of their families -- on the line to protect our freedom.  May we never take their sacrifice for granted.  The following is a brief clip of an article posted by John Hanson, SVP of Communications at the USO, on the real cost of the global expansion of war.
...at the USO we talk a lot about the difference between the price and the cost of war.  Discussions by the wise people in the media almost always focus on the price.  “Can we afford this?” “It’s driving up our deficit.”  “If it weren’t for the war, we’d be in better economic shape now.”

And other blah, blah, from the right and the left.

War has a price, and we can decide to pay it or not.  But, military service – especially war service – has a cost that goes on and on.  It’s a cost in human lives and suffering; it’s a price in rehabilitation from serious injuries that would not have been survived in earlier conflicts.  It’s also a cost in human – especially American – decency.  Our vocabulary is filled with trite over-worn quotes about honoring military service.  They’re often attributed to people who didn’t serve, but didn’t mind sending someone else to serve.

As far as I know, George Santayana never served in anyone’s military, but he left us with an important thought: “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”

I lied earlier, there’s no real point here.  The struggle is in getting the message out that there are several hundred thousand of our neighbors doing some pretty tough work on our behalf.  Thinking that each of us does not have a stake in their wellbeing or in their successful return to our communities is worse than shortsighted…it’s potentially dangerous.

Because, Santayana also told us, “Only the dead have seen the end of war.”
There is much talk about freedom, liberty, and how we should protect it at all costs. The reality is that we live in a fragile moment in history where there is no war on American soil.  While our fellow countrymen are being
sent all over the globe to fight wars, we sit back and watch from the comfort of our living rooms. It was not
long ago that we were fighting each other on our own soil.  In the words of General Robert E. Lee:
What a cruel thing is war: to separate and destroy families and friends, and mar the purest joys and happiness God has granted us in this world; to fill our hearts with hatred instead of love for our neighbors, and to devastate the fair face of this beautiful world.

It is well that war is so terrible -- lest we should grow too fond of it.

Confederate dead behind the stone wall of Marye's Heights, Fredericksburg, Va., killed during the Battle of Chancellorsville.  Note: There were two battles at Marye's Heights. The first was the Battle of Fredericksburg in December 1862, the second was the eastern portion of the Battle of Chancellorsville, May 1863.  Posted at wikiwak.com.

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