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Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Memorial Day Success in West Harford! Some thoughts on civilian losses in war, et al.

Hopefully, you attended the Memorial Day parade and ceremony on Monday. If you didn't, you missed something very special. The entire town - including all of the fabulous school bands, and groups marching down Farmington Avenue looked sharp and really made us all proud that we are residents of West Hartford. As I said in my previous post - Memorial Day is a day of remembrance, and a day to recognize the sacrifice that so many made in the name of freedom.

I recognize that many of the kids who marched, may not yet understand the nature of why we are celebrating and parading around town. But in time, they will grow up to comprehend it, and remember that they took part in honoring those who have gone before us and made the ultimate sacrifice. This is a good lesson that we teach our children; this is one holiday that should not be removed from the holiday schedule so that the school teacher's union members can get out a day earlier. (Pathetic idea to say the least). And no matter how hard they try, the schools just wouldn't do it justice - seeing, feeling, and listening to real veterans tell real stories is the real deal - let the kids walk amongst giants. Schools just wouldn't get it right.

My young daughter is only two years old, and she may not recollect all of the images she witnessed on Monday in her later years. But I did capture images of her at the parade on my modest Canon A520, and I will continue to bring her to Memorial Day parades and celebrations so that she may learn the value of what these men and women have done for us and for future generations.

The ceremony was also well conducted and solemn. I think it was very fitting to hear certain points regarding the sacrifice by civilians in war. One of the speakers made it a point to describe a tale of what the Atomic Bomb - launched by our Armed Forces on Hiroshima, Japan - did to the civilian population - relaying a story told by a visiting Japanese teacher regarding her family's escape from death and starvation by hiding under the bridge and consuming Saki to stay alive. Also, to be fair, the German War machine rained tens of thousands of bombs on London and her outlying areas - turning streets and homes to rubble, and killing thousands of innocent civilians. The same story can be told in many places, from Vietnam to Dresden, Germany.
Few escape the horrors of war when the battle rages on their homeland. During 9-11, I lost a fraternity brother who had one child who's wife was months away from giving birth to their second child. He was a civilian casualty of Bin Laden's mad dream. He had phoned his wife to tell her he was on his way down the stair to safety - but he never made it. The horror of it is surreal. While I wasn't close to him as both started families in different parts of the world, we still had our time together at UConn. And so the speech on Monday hit home and the point was poignant.

The purpose of the day is to get us to remember. So while the parade featured military veterans, bands, balloons, and old jalopies, it held special meaning for some of us who spent the rest of the day reflecting on what it all means, and how complicated war can be - including this one in Iraq - which everyone is sick to death of. But the balance between was is right and what is necessary is often blurred.
I have to say that the United States does engage in a lot of conflicts around the world - that much is true. But I also have to say that we do not start them, but often are called on to finish them. There is not easy answer to this, because if there were then it would be implemented and congress would be embroiled in arguments about health care and taxes and little else.
But the policies should not take away from the human element. No one signs up to die, and no one enlists to become a name on a grave marker. I think this is often lost in the discussion; and intentionally dismissed by those on the left, like Cindy Sheehan and Hillary Clinton, who invoke a soldier's misfortune for political gain. For that reason, I strongly dislike these people, and when I read stories like these, I'm angered by the self-centered mindset of some holier-than- thou people like Sheehan.

I need to end on a positive note with this posting. Monday was a fabulous day for West Hartford, and our veterans, parents, children and -- even our politicians managed to act respectful - for the most part and honored the crowd with thought-provoking commentary that didn't go over the top.
Thank you Veterans. And thank you families of veterans lost. Thank you for what you've endured, and for your sacrifice. And to the families of those civilians who were lost due to war - we mourn with you and share in your sorrow.
Most of us appreciate your loss, and we offer our respect and condolences on this Memorial Day in West Hartford.


sujal said...

The irony of your post, at least the "pontificating" as you put it, is that you dare to call Sheehan holier-than-thou. Let's be frank here. Dsiagree with her politics and her activism all you want but recognize that she lost a son. She's not using an anonymous soldier's memory, she's agitating based on her own loss. Your judgement of her is truly 'holier-than-thou' as you're actually judging her.

I'm also not sure what about the post you linked to made you angry. Perhaps you can comment further on it. Her commentary seems focused at her critics, and as this post shows, there are no shortage of them.

I'm not a fan of Sheehan's per se, but this whole post smacks of the same holier-than-thou judgement that you're heaping on her and on Hillary Clinton (and why was her name dropped in there for?)....

Finally, a history lesson might be in order... Grenada, Nicaragua, Chile, the Philippines... we've started a number of wars or engineered them behind the scenes. I believe our country has by and far been honorable in its dealings around the world, but we ignore our failings and past mistakes at our own peril.

The King said...

Hillary is the queen of pontificating. Let's not forget her audibly taped statement that she "loathed the military".

As for Sheehan. Clearly, she lost a son. But let's remember, he signed up and any expectation of any who signs up should be entering military combat situation (not free tuition and benefits). Most of said of her son - that knew her son personaly, that he would not have appreciated or agreed with his mother's behavior.

As for your last paragraph. We get involved because no one else bothers. I agree in part. We should let the rest of the world fall apart and mind our own business. Same with nation building and supplying food to third world countries... they can figure it out, right? But we reserve the right to airstrike any nation that sponsors state terrorism carte blanche. Fair enough. If you start it, we finish it.

Sujal said...

I don't know anything about that Hillary quote, so I can't really comment on it.

i think it's not helpful to speculate about what Sheehan's son would've felt if he were alive. My point is that her belief is authentic and comes from within. My issue is with you calling her holier-than-thou. I simply cannot see where you're seeing that. Furthermore, your own actions smack of the holier-than-thou attitude you claim.

About "starting it" and "finishing it", it's unclear to me what you're saying in that paragraph. If I understand correctly, you are advocating a completely isolationist foreign policy. Is that correct?

Regardless, you're missing my point. You said we've never started any wars. That's simply not true. Do you disagree?