Monday, May 30, 2011

In Memory: A Letter to my Children

Meg and I flew the flag today. Every week we watch the end of the PBS News Hour, when they silently share the names and photographs of those killed in Iraq and Afghanistan that day. Most of them look like my children. It's hard to know how to pay tribute to those men and women and to all the soldiers who came before them. War is an inevitable and sometimes necessary burden, but lately, beginning with Vietnam, it has not seemed that the wars we have fought have been  either inevitable or necessary.
After 9/11, I was as pumped up and ready to strike back as any testosterone-raging male. Looking back, I guess taking a swipe at the Taliban in Afghanistan was defensible, but I would say that we have little hope of nation-building there now. Iraq was at best a mistake, at worst a crime. I believed it when Colin Powell told us that Saddam was about to gas or nuke us. He (and perhaps even I) should have known better. Meg was skeptical. She would not have invaded Iraq, and she turned out to be right. Considering President Bush's other policies, it's not surprising that we were betrayed by him. Presidents have agendas and egos that can lead them (and us) astray.
Still, I am frustrated by frustration. What good does it do to sit in a corner and grumble? For my part, I have decided to be more active in supporting policies that I think will reduce the risk of pointless wars. I believe this is the greatest tribute I can offer in memory of those who have died for our country: a hope that none will die again for a cause that is unwise or unnecessary.

In fighting terror, I think we need more intelligence assets and fewer carriers and fighters. So I will support, by petitions, letters, etc., steering our defense spending in that direction. To reduce our dependence on Middle Eastern oil (which many think is the real reason we are fighting over there), I will similarly support investments in alternative energy.

As the Egyptians who filled Tahir square have reminded us, we are not powerless. And our voice can be heard more often than once a year at the ballot box. Many in the House and Senate are public-opinion windsocks. We can be part of the freshening breeze.

If you too are moved to be more active (in whatever way, and for whatever cause you think best), remember this: with every petition you sign, every letter to the editor or to Congress you write, I will be there with you.

Love to you all on this difficult day.


  1. You have to wonder why we're still there; still fighting any of these wars, still carrying out the Patriot act, still in Obama betraying us too?

  2. It's a good question, David. I think we'll have to see what happens over the next year or so. Getting out seems to be tougher than getting in. Of course, that was the rationalization in Vietnam, too. I was encouraged by the way we handled Libya, helping out in a tough situation without (literally) sending in the Marines.

  3. "without (literally) sending in the Marines" ...yet.