Thursday, November 11, 2004

A Salute and a Promise

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Courtesy of Veterans for Peace

Veterans Day - as parades of veterans march down the streets of many cities and small towns today, I salute their service to this country and to the commitment and sacrifices made for us.

As the World War II Memorial opened in Washington this year, many vets who had never spoken about their experiences, came forth finally to talk about the clarity of their mission along with the horrors of war. Those two conflicting perspectives must be very clear in the eyes of those who would send today's military forces to war. And those who have made these sacrifices must be remembered afterwards and not left in the streets as homeless people or without the ability to get decent health care.

A year ago, on Veterans Day, I wrote in part these words, which remain current:

Veterans Day remembers the sacrifices of so many who have served our country and who continue to do so today. Many, of course, have paid with their lives or disabling injuries over the years. So, I would first ask you to consider taking a moment sometime today to “salute” them in whatever way you choose to do so.

You have seen the bumper stickers, “Support our Troops”, and I know most of you do so, regardless of administration policies and actions. Patriotism isn’t the sole province of Republicans. And, a lot of you have family and friends now in Iraq.

Please also understand that, in my opinion, “troops” includes our veterans, many of whom are being forgotten in a variety of ways by this administration. Nobody was sorry to see Saddam Hussein go. Nevertheless, many of us do not agree with how the Bush administration justified its actions in going to war. Nor do we agree with the Bush Doctrine, including pre-emptive invasions and regime changes as regular courses of action for the future, in the name of Democracy. Nor do we agree with a Patriot Act that threatens the basic freedoms which many of you fought for. Nor do we agree with the deficiencies in veterans’ medical care. Nor do we like the fact that veterans are likely to be homeless three times more than anyone else.

… On this Veterans Day while you honor your brothers and sisters in arms, resolve to make things better for those that follow them in the future, and for our country.

So today is not only a salute to those of you who have protected this country, but to those doing so right now. And it is a promise to assure you that you will not be forgotten as you face dangers unknowable by those you fight for. It's a promise that many of us care what happens to you now and after you leave military service, regardless of the political decisions, right or wrong, that put you in harm's way.

A salute and a promise to you today. This is your day. Thank you.

Posted by a Vet -- -- permanent link