13 November 2007

supporting veterans

Yesterday, I, along with 40 or 50 others, observed Veterans Day by participating in a peace (and peaceful) march. (It was actually the Monday right after Veterans Day, which is a national holiday.) We walked from the other, larger, Presbyterian church in town to the plaza at city hall. There were a couple of brief addresses, but most of the time was spent reading the names of New Yorkers who have died during the war in Iraq.

Before we left the church, there was one fellow who stepped forward and apologetically said that, while he also is opposed to this war, having this event on Veterans Day sends the wrong message. He said that any veterans who saw us would think about those who returned from Vietnam--and how some of them were spat upon. However, anyone who bothered to notice would see that there was no ill-will toward those who've been sent to Iraq to fight. The placards people were carrying had various messages: "Support our troops by bringing them home," "War is not the answer," and my favorite, which I selected upon arriving at the church, "Who would Jesus bomb?"

It continues to amaze and dismay me how opposition to Bush's war in Iraq gets conflated with opposition to the military. Equally amazing is how the Bush administration can be viewed as being supportive of veterans. They're good with easy speeches and photo ops, but their policies threaten the fabric of the military. (I'm speaking of human beings, of course. Weapon systems are in good shape!)

Dwight Eisenhower once told his son, "God help us if we ever get a president who doesn't understand the military." There's a term that has disappeared from the political lexicon, one that was frequently uttered during the '90s, when Clinton was in office. Once Bush and Cheney assumed power, the term "draft dodger" was no longer spoken. I'm not advocating a return of that ridiculous label, but in the case of the present administration, it's more appropriate than ever.

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