Yesterday, we buried my brother in law. And in the video montage put together by the funeral home, were several pictures of him in Nam, smiling at the camera, just a kid of twenty something in a sea of mud.

I remembered him telling me when I was first dating his sister, and was not really into the family enough to either care or value the signifigance,……”I was in Cambodia. You would not believe the shit that went on there. I was in some of the worst fighting in the war, and officially it never happened.”

But seeing this kid’s image, and knowing he was in perhaps the worst firefights of that war, made me realize just how great this country is, to have such people in it.

And slowly it dawned on me that I too, perhaps need to step up and do my part in the continous formation of this great nation. I, too, need to perform my meager duties to help propel this nation, step by step, towards its right direction.

And when opposed by forces who have arrayed their armies against me, I too, will need that courage, the same courage that was held by a young boy, plucked from his warm West Virginian family, and placed into the steamy jungles of hell, and asked to do nothing more than his duty.

And as my thoughts continued to roam, I found myself wondering on how I would even define my duty? What on earth could I do, that would make even the tiniest difference in how history would play itself out? And that answer………. simple as it may seem………….is that my duty, is to uniquely utilise whatever poor pool of talents I possess, and make this nation a little better for the next generation that comes along. That was it. That was all.

There is little I can do. I can write. I can try to instill values into the next generation. I can lead by example. And though all of these are important, none of these require the courage of that kid who carried an M1 and a hundred pounds on his back.

Flipping through the channels late at night, I crossed Keith Oberman’s comments on the war. That was brave. It reminded me of Walter Cronkite, pulling down his glasses and looking into the camera year’s ago, telling us that he had finally become convinced that the war in Vietnam, was no longer in Americas best interests. Yes that was brave as well. And those kids at Kent State who went to make a statement, and stood up against the line of Ohio’s National Guard perhaps too well, yeah, that was brave.

Here again, as in Vietnam, we have brave souls on both sides of the issue. So how does it play out, with both sides standing up for an America they love, respect, and honor?

The answer is this: the “correct” course of action MUST be followed in Iraq. We cannot follow this course of war, just to increase the wealth of what Eisenhower dubbed the “military industrial complex.” We cannot follow the course of war, just to save the “face” of our president and subsequently the “face” of his most ardent supporters. We cannot follow the course of war, to justify the transfer of wealth away from social programs to that of the military and its supporters.

But we can justify the war if it does something good. If it does benefit the Iraqi people, if it does make us safer, if it does make the rest of the world comfortable that Americans are in charge and will take risks to rid the world of injustice, where ever it is found. But this war has done none of these.

This is probably no better represented by this statistic: that AFTER we captured Saddam Hussein, we have lost five times more the number of American soldiers than we did in the months BEFORE he was captured. And where is the good that has come from their 2500 deaths? Look at Iraq now.

And so as we add 9000 more troops to the killing sands, it is politically correct to ask if as we increased the levels of troops in Vietnam, if that changed Vietnam’s outcome? Apparently not, and it is with a sad heart we realise that the lessons of history must be relearned, and that many will continue to fight and die, and show great feats of courage that no one will ever know, in battles that officially and forever in the revisionist’s record books, will become known to have never happened.