Family Security Matters
As friends and I got together writing letters for the troops, it struck us how many of our contemporaries are unaware Americans are fighting a war, or that some of military will not return to their native soil alive. I can’t think of any other major conflict where there has been such a disconnection between those who serve, and those who are served. At this time of year, with Memorial Day just a week away, the sacrifice made by so few for so many should be front and center in our consciousness. Alas it may just be another inconvenient truth.
Coming home, the flag that draped my father’s casket as backdrop to reading the newspaper which no longer talks about the military, unless a local person is killed, or a photo op from a Memorial Day service, is in stark contrast from our early days in Iraq and Afghanistan. You’d think there wasn’t a war being waged or Americans in harm’s way, based upon the media coverage, or more accurately, lack thereof. It made me think of how far we have come as a nation – the good, and the bad, and how the political winds of fortune play a role in the lives of people who risk their security for ours.
Would it surprise anyone to know that more US servicemen and women have died in Afghanistan on Obama’s watch than during the W Bush presidency? The government data on US servicemen/women deaths are clear. Yet where is the public outrage? Where are the protests with clarion calls “Obama Lied, Soldiers Died” being chanted in the streets the way they were when George W. Bush was POTUS? Where is the righteous indignation and concern over military deaths from Code Pink, or the other anti-war protestor groups? Where are the daily front page news items about our brave men and women in uniform who remain in harm’s way?
Sadly the number of flags folded at funeral services over the last 7 years, with the all too familiar phrase “on behalf of a grateful nation” has been greater than the years beforehand, in no small measure due to Obama’s foreign policy in Afghanistan, and even sadder, it does not define or inform his foreign policy either. As an aside, one could of course argue that the number of people – civilians, allies, enemies, and troops – killed due to Obama’s foreign policy errors has eclipsed what has occurred under Bush’s watch. Beyond the idiotic misnomer Arab Spring which saw allies brought to the brink, is the emergence of ISIS (NOT a JV team!) whose efforts towards Christian genocide has resulted in incalculable deaths. ISIS’ ambition towards extra-regional caliphate has led to untold suffering, loss of irreplaceable historic treasures, and death from the Middle East, to Europe and beyond. Instead of one major group of radical killers and their franchisees (Al Qaeda) we now have two major non state sponsors of terrorism, in addition to a more deadly form of state terrorism sponsor – Iran on Obama’s watch. Then there are deaths associated with Putin unchecked, and Syria unchecked, and Palestinians unchecked, and Iran unchecked (which includes Hezbollah), and, well you get the idea. There’s a lot of bloodshed on his watch, not that you would read about it in the major papers, or see it on the major networks. Clearly there are no “Obama Lied, People Died” protests.
If there was any doubt that the “Bush Lied People Died” movement was about destroying President Bush and the GOP, not about any sudden and newly found concern by the ultra left (the group now running the DNC) for the military back in 2004 (or today) can be put to bed with the recognition that while more servicemen and women have been killed in Afghanistan on Obama’s watch than during the “W” Bush presidency, there is barely a peep out of the protestor groups today. Before the Obama Monarchy, there was an incessant yammering about “Bush Lied Soldiers Died” from a wide array of vocal protestors coast to coast, with the dutiful, complicit, and anti Bush media taking near ghoulish glee in posting body counts and daily images of flag draped caskets. The near hysteria about the military might have given one pause to think the largely anti-military ultra left got some sense of concern and solidarity for those in uniform. Dare to dream!
In all fairness, while most of the “Lied and Died” protestors dropped their signs once the real motivation for their activities – vilifying Bush, and getting a democrat elected to the Oval Office – was achieved, Code Pink from Orange County (California) did mount a protest during the first of many Obama foreign policy flip flops.
According to an article in the Orange County Register from 12/02/09 “ORANGE Code Pink, a women’s anti-war activist group, held a protest rally in Plaza Park on Wednesday evening to protest President Barack Obama’s decision to send 30,000 U.S. troops to Afghanistan in 2010. Eight people attended the rally in Plaza Park, some holding signs bearing the peace symbol and others reading “Save Our Troops, Bring Them Home.” Code Pink spokeswoman Kathy Hundemer said the group had been meeting weekly in the Plaza for the past five years to protest the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Hundemer said the group scaled back to meeting only on the first and third Wednesday of each month in January to see if Obama would honor his campaign promise to end the war. “We thought maybe he’d start to pull out the brigades,” Hundemer said. “Our numbers were dwindling, but we were still a presence to remind people that war is still going on.”
“Their numbers were dwindling.” Yeh, that’s an understatement. But very telling! Their guy Obama was now POTUS, and only tepid criticism of him would be allowed. Like eight members protested. Can’t get more tepid than that! It certainly was not enough to gain attention by most major newspapers, not that any would deviate from the party line of protecting Obama. So much for the soldiers slogging their way through deadly tours of duty…one has to wonder where did all the supposed concern for our troops go? The OC Register carried the story because their constituents are more conservative than nearly any region in Southern California. But 8 people?! Wow, I can tell their hearts were into it. Want to wager how many people from that same group protested troops going to Afghanistan when Bush was POTUS?
The hypocrisy of the ultra left, daring to use US servicemen and women as a cause célèbre for the most venal and base motives – political leverage, not patriotic concern – is appalling albeit not surprising. That the ultra left has returned to their normal behaviors of not giving a darn about the military given Obama is the Commander in Chief, no matter how much blood is shed on his watch, should give potential voters pause to wonder what will become the fate of our returning troops in such a political climate, should it continue? Of course never underestimate the DNC and their complicit legion of media supporters – just in time for the election, one of their candidates will utter a sound bite or two that almost resembles real concern for the military. Lest the GOP puff its collective chests, their track record these last 7 years isn’t too inspiring either.
Within a few days we will once again celebrate Memorial Day, which is to say, many will party blithely unaware of the true meaning, the significance of this somber day. Of course it is difficult to get into a proper frame of reference when we focus on three day weekends, discounted shopping, and outdoor parties. Not that a day off and family times are inherently bad. But for most people, in an era of all volunteer military, where the number of folks in uniform is miniscule compared to the number of folks not in uniform, the significance of this day is underemphasized in schools, and underappreciated in our communities or households. To be sure, many small towns in New England will host memorial services and parades to honor the men and women who “gave their last full measure of devotion” – that is, they died for you and me. Probably other communities will do the same. And these times of remembrance are important, warranting our support, as well as attendance.
Comparing times of war in previous eras, and what the nation looked like in the aftermath, one has to wonder if we supported our current troops and veterans the way we treated our WWII veterans, what could our nation become if we made our contemporary vets as special within the fabric of our nation as we did in 1945? What could these remarkable people in uniform achieve, develop, create for our country were we to remedy the support systems and enhance the outreach opportunities for our troops via public and private partnerships?
Yet that can hardly be the considered the case. Consider the disparity in funds we put into folks on welfare compared to the income and benefits we provide to our military? Or the ease of access to university medical care welfare, even illegal aliens can obtain, compared to the hoops, and red tape and limited facilities our troops are afforded. Think there were many homeless GI’s from WWII?
We can do more, we can do better.
For starters – we can provide the same level of coverage post Bush that was given during his presidency – those who act heroically and those who return in flag draped caskets. The media were more than willing to do so when it was a means to destroy Bush, although putatively portrayed as honoring the troops. OK put up or shut up. Let’s return to the days when the Post, the Times and others put our military front and center. Let’s honor our troops – past, present and future. (Memo to universities – ROTC is not an epithet; it is a collective of folks who see the bigger picture). If it embarrasses Obama, big deal! He is in the big chair; it goes with the territory.
Let’s put our military first, not the political desires of feckless cronies, and send enough troops to ensure force protection as well as mission capacity. Consider for a moment a question I often get… “why more casualties with less troops in Afghanistan than under Bush?” For starters – declining numbers means smaller force protection. If you barely have enough to prosecute the mission, you have precious few to protect the team. Simple math! Tasking foreign governments to protect our troops when those very same political entities are infiltrated by the enemy is only a recipe for disaster, as has been seen time and again with Afghan law enforcement or military inflicting wounds on friendly allies and troops. Having spent a fair amount of time interacting with some fine friendly folks in the Gulf region, within the same government you have good guys, bad guys, crazies, zealots, and reformers. And we are placing the lives of our citizens in their hands? Their politicians are less savory than our own cast of characters. I know that can be hard to believe, but trust me. Also, we have a POTUS who has made significant foreign policy blunders, setting the stage for emboldened and increasingly better armed adversaries.
We should also care about our troops more proactively by supporting the enterprises that bring a touch of home and comfort while they are deployed, and then assist them – healthy or wounded – when they return. Charity Navigator is a good place to start. http://www.charitynavigator.org/index.cfm?bay=content.view&cpid=531#.V0OBVth0yP8
Several local, regional, and national enterprises are promoting activities for the troops. Recently while traveling through some airports, the convenience stores in various terminals were asking patrons to consider purchasing items like snack foods, phone cards or toiletries, and the business would cover the shipping costs to servicemen and women. It was good to see many patrons choosing to participate. We can do similar, working through military service organizations, and connecting them with our faith enterprises or neighborhood, work or sports groups. We can send cards to the troops, and care packages. Anything that makes them feel like some of us have a clue back home, and recognize there is a war going on, lack of media coverage and political commentary notwithstanding.
We can also become more politically active. Historically “It’s the economy stupid” or the “what’s in it for me” that drives elections, as political strategist James Carville famously informed twenty plus years ago. Unless we give politicians another issue of concern beyond the economy as the leading political driver, or the US gets attacked in a 9 – 11 manner, our military will remain largely second place in a nation of political competing demands. The middle left and middle right are closely aligned to caring for issues that matter. The DNC has been taken over by the ultra left. But by letting our concerns about the men and women in uniform become front and center to candidates on all sides of the aisle – Democrat, Republican, Libertarian, Martians Against Human Colonization, Polar Bears For a Russia Free Arctic, and whatever other party mounts a presidential campaign in 2016 – we can garner support and concessions for our troops, and their families.
Memorial Day is fast upon us. One day is never enough to offer thanks, solace, and recognition for the ultimate sacrifice. On behalf of a grateful nation….but are we? Next Monday is a good reminder to do what we can – attend a community memorial service, buy a person in uniform a meal or coffee, or simply give a pat on the back and a thank you. It is a day we can leave a penny on the headstone of someone who served. For surviving loved ones, seeing coins on the headstones may give comfort that strangers have taken notice, and friends are silently keeping watch. It gives one pause to think. It is a day where we can send a check to a worthwhile charity that helps our wounded warriors, or the families of fallen troops. It is a day we can make a difference for a neighbor who still mourns the loss of a loved one who gave his or her last full measure of devotion.
Memorial Day…It is a day that defines our sensibilities as citizens – citizens hopefully of a grateful nation.
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