Today is the day we celebrate the end of the “War to End All Wars.” It’s the day we commemorate the horrendous loss of life, limb, sanity and simple comfort that war entails. We do it by thanking our soldiers, which I do, but….
Why aren’t we doing more? Why do we allow anyone to turn their health care into a political football? Why do we deny that we are responsible for their PTSD or even that they have it? Why don’t we do a better job of helping their families manage the stresses of deployment? Why don’t we do a better job of protecting the few rights they don’t give up in order to protect us, like the right to worship as they see fit–or not at all–instead of the way their commanders worship, or the right to not face sexual harassment?
Why do we send them to fight in wars that can’t be “won”? Why do we not demand that everyone else share some part of their sacrifice when we do? Why do we spend so long to shape them when we take them out of civilian life and so little time when we tell them to return? Why don’t we contribute more to the education that’s meant to fit them for that civilian life? Why do we let “supporting” our troops become supporting the people who order them around?
Those are the kinds of thanks that matter, and until we start doing those and more than one day out of the year, we’ve got this holiday all wrong. To all the soldiers I know, love and/or am related to, thank you once more and I’m sorry I don’t have more to offer you than these words.