Reflections

Loving Veterans/Hating War

I am reminded today, Veteran’s Day, of an old dichotomy that I have never understood, and which still rears its ugly, hateful rhetoric quite frequently.

Why can so many NOT understand that it is possible to be both pro-veteran and anti-war at the same time?!

I mean, really people! Is that truly so difficult to understand?! So I thought I’d take one more stab at trying to explain, knowing full well that those who already get it will agree, and those who don’t won’t…

I, personally, love veterans! I mean that sincerely. I grew up in a military family. Most of my family members (and many of my male ancestors) are now enshrined in veteran’s memorial cemetaries. I am the only one in my immediate family who chose not to serve in that capacity, and that is because I have always been anti-war.

Which is not to say that all veterans must be combat vets to truly represent, but all active duty military must be prepared to face combat in order to serve. And that was a commitment I couldn’t make. I remember my father explaining to me that there were useful (and important) ways to serve the U.S. military without facing combat, but the bottom line for me was that, if all else failed, even those support personnel would be called up before civilians would have to “take over,” and I wouldn’t trust myself to serve adequately. Besides, I have never been one to follow orders first and question later, which is precisely the mindset required in emergency situations; my hesitation under those circumstances would cause undue hardship on my fellow soldiers…

But this isn’t really about me. I share these details only to emphasize my point. I know many men and women who joined because it ennabled them to get a “fresh start,” escaping lives of poverty, abuse, gangs, criminal cohorts, etc. I know some who joined out of a sense of duty, and a desire to serve our country. And I’m old enough to know some who were drafted against their wills. But in all cases, they made a commitment to serve, and they did so to the best of their ability. I can only honor and respect that. Always…

But war… War is run by moneyed interests, detached from the personnel and resources they exploit. War wreaks havoc, leaves scars that never heal, denies Life. I cannot respect or honor that. It is not in my nature to do so.

Are wars ever necessary? I don’t truly have the wisdom to answer that. I know I would not be living in this failing democratic republic were it not for those who took up arms against Britain to declare our independent status. But, by the same token, I know I would not be living in this vast, consumer-driven capitalist nation were it not for those who took up arms to annihilate the indigineous people of this land. And while I can tentatively support the first scenario, I can never (in my own heart and mind) justify the latter…

So… I know I lack the wisdom to determine the cause and/or course of war. It makes more “sense” then for me to choose the path of caution, to choose not to support any excuse for war. I declare myself anti-war.

But I have nothing but respect and honor for those who serve the military, in whatever capacity, and for whatever reason. Who serve in times of peace or war. I am pro-veteran to my core…

It is possible to be both, simultaneously, and without contradiction...

Enough said…

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