Americans have a lot to be proud of. Not the least of that is that their country's record with regards to military operations abroad is relatively spotless - if you forget the almost inevitable war crimes committed by a very small number of individuals. Certainly, no one can accuse the US of having used its armed forces throughout its history in an imperialistic way, a few small scale operations in the nineteenth century notwithstanding. Basically all European countries e.g., at one or several instances throughout their history, sent their armies to invade either neighbouring countries or countries further away possessing goods or territory which they thought would enhance their power. Millions and millions and millions of European soldiers died serving what was in essence a brutal and oppressive cause. But... not so AMERICAN soldiers.
Indeed, the truly overwhelming majority of Americans who fell in the wars their country waged, were part of noble enterprises aimed at alleviating the needs of suppressed peoples, or downright liberating them.
Yes, hundreds of thousands of American troops perished on foreign battlefields, far from their loved ones.
But hundreds of millions live in freedom and prosperity because of that gruseome sacrifice.
Without America's military commitment in the service of freedom, justice and humanity, this world would be a VERY different place. And a far nastier one.
Today, May 28th 2012, is the day to honor all those gentle heroes, and pray for them and their relatives.
I don't doubt for a second that the overwhelming majority of Americans respect the dead of their armed forces, who fell on battlefields from Bataan over Hawaii to Antietam and Gettysburg. From Bunker Hill and Yorktown to Nicaragua and Bastogne. From Belleau Wood and the Huertgen Forest to Fallujah and Helmand. From Grenada and Anzio to Khe Sanh, Hue and Inchon.
And yet over the past year my eye fell upon several disturbing articles. What to think of this e.g., via Fox News:
"...Memorial Day reaches out beyond our veterans, living and dead, to embrace all Americans–and to remind them that freedom is never free, in peacetime as well as war.
Today, unfortunately, nothing is sacred. That includes the graves of our war dead and veterans. Every day brings new stories about resting places vandalized or decaying with neglect. In one Boston cemetery 250 brass flag standards were stolen from soldiers’ graves to sell for scrap. A maintenance supervisor at a national cemetery outside Milwaukee was arrested for using the burial plots as his private dumping ground. Meanwhile, the National Cemetery Association’s budget has been stuck at $250 million for more than a decade–that’s about half of what our government gave to Solyndra–even the numbers of World War Two and Korean War veterans passing on, has been soaring...."
Far more appalling than news of neglect and slashed maintenace funds however was this harrowing story of the Air Force dumping partial remains of US troops in a Virginia landfill. I do not know what is worse: the fact that it happened, or the fact that there was no outcry to notice:
"...The leaders of a congressional committee investigating the Dover Air Force Base mortuary said Thursday that they would broaden their probe to include all military burial practices over the past decade, including reports that partial remains of hundreds of war dead were incinerated and dumped in a Virginia landfill.
Rep. Darrell Issa (Calif.) and Rep. Elijah Cummings (Md.), the top Republican and Democrat, respectively, on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, said they found “appalling” revelations in The Washington Post on Thursday that the Air Force shipped incinerated remains from at least 274 troops to the King George County Landfill before ending the practice in 2008..."
Whoever was responsible for this, should hang. And I strain myself not to wish I would mean that litterally.
I would say that now is the time for prayer and thanking. God bless.