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Sunday, November 27, 2011

What's a Hero?

Some of my readers will hate me for saying this: Let's stop calling every soldier a hero! We are offending those who really deserve the name, those who risked everything to save their friends, those who survived and those who didn't. As a veteran who has never felt bullets flying overhead except in basic training, I can recall some heroic tales by those who were in WWII and in Korea. None of them thought that he was a hero for doing what a soldier does, his duty.

As we fortunately near the end of combat troops in both theaters of war, Afghanistan and Iraq, we must recognize our volunteer-soldiers, those who served honorably; others, the abusers and killers of innocent civilians, must be tried in an American court and sent to prison for a long time. An Iraqi life is just as precious as an American one, and we, as soldiers, carry the great responsibility of representing our country's ideals of freedom and democracy.

I remember vividly the day President Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas; I was walking the streets of a German town where my unit was stationed, when I suddenly ran across locals, men and women, openly weeping at the fatidic news. I ran back to my quarters to listen to the military channel on the radio and heard the sad confirmation that our commander-in-chief had not survived. We were immediately placed on alert, thinking that the 50 armored Soviet divisions might cross the border between East and West Germany. Luckily, they didn't and WW III was avoided. But I knew that the Germans respected the American G.I. because of what we represented.

We had no choice during the Cold War; we had to demonstrate our military power lest the hotheads in the Kremlin thought they could destroy us easily. Today, we have a choice. Our troops no longer have a good reason to stay in Iraq and Afghanistan. To those who say that President Obama is wrong in announcing the date of our pull-out, I say:"Are they threatening our country's shores and borders?" No, the Taliban are a rag-tag army that only wants us out of Afghanistan. Let them have it! On the other hand, Iraq is stable enough to fight its own wars without our help. They have a government that has asked us to, no, told us to get out this year. Let them have it and stop repeating the same political sing-song of sacrifice made in vain. We got rid of Sadam Hussein and his murderous sons, didn't we?

We have to recognize two important concepts: We still have the best military in the world, but we can no longer afford to play the policeman of this Earth. We have urgent problems at home, such as making sure that every returning soldier gets all the help he or she deserves. So far, we have failed in that mission. Going back to civilian life after facing death during years, after losing your buddies to IED's, and after killing human beings who also had loving families, is no easy task. Let's remember that when we interview veterans for a job they urgently need.


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Elena said...

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