Armed Service Day on the Green

Yesterday was an interesting day in downtown Newark. The yearly Armed Forces Service Day Parade was in full gear.

But this year there was something strangely different. The difference was so subtle, that it took many hours for me to realize exactly what it was. For one, because of the current war, I was much less gung-ho-America-rules- the-world, than I previously was when America was still a respected nation worldwide. Although in truth I must admit, that when the Huey buzzed Main Street low enough to see the hand waving from the gun port, and all the little old ladies put their fist over their head and said “Yes!”, a couple of those jingoistic embers left over from a previous time flared up inside of me, like leftover coals being blown early on a crisp morning. I confess, I still had pride watching those ghosts of what they once were, religiously marching down Main Street yesterday, straining under the weight of the flags they carried. But my pride in our armed forces this year, was tempered somewhat awkwardly by the shame of how our country has misused them most recently.


You can’t blame the soldiers. They truly are America’s best and are doing an amazing job. They have but one order: to do their duty. And they do it so well. When asked to serve, they stepped up, and anywhere they go, they make a large impact. If anyone is to receive the blame for this shame, it belongs, not so much to those who are responsible for putting our troops into this mess, but to those who abdicated their responsibility to pull them out on time, thereby abandoning them and leaving them stuck.


Perhaps this may help to clarify. In March 2003 we went to war for what we know now, were the wrong reasons. But, at that time since we didn’t have enough ground intelligence to know our reasoning was invalid, we chose to assume our motives were legitimate, and marched towards Baghdad. Perhaps some of the blame for this, can be laid at the feet of the late Sadaam Hussein. He tried hard to make us believe there were WMD’s implanted in 946 sites around Iraq. But for whatever reason, we made a decision and acted.


We know now we were wrong without a doubt. And now, the average life of most Iraqis is much worse than when Saddam ruled with an iron fist. And now we are reduced to begging two members of our former Axis of Evil, Syria and Iran, to help us to stabilize the area long enough so that we can pull our troops together and bug out of Iraq.


So anyone who still supports the war at this late date, and has not yet come out strongly against it, is being, for lack of a better word, quite unpatriotic. Perhaps this twist bears further explanation. Based on today’s body counts, one can readily accept the fact that if you support the war today, you support the slaughter of US troops, not in combat mind you, but in standing around like target ducks while waiting for an order that never comes. And it is rather obvious that if you support the war today, you are supporting not necessarily a true Democracy, but instead, you are backing a puppet government that has no authority outside the Green Zone, And furthermore, if you support the war today, you are most certainly not improving the quality of life for 20 million Iraqis, you are instead, rapidly destroying it.


The changing events on the ground in Iraq, have pushed this country towards one of its most bizarre of ironies. For if you continue to support this war today, you are, in fact, doing the opposite of supporting the troops, you are infact hurting them by putting them in danger for no valid reason. There is only one valid excuse left to those still supporting this war, and that is………. to protect the reputations of those who decide to put us there under false pretenses.


Many of those die hards who still support the war, consider themselves to be members of a certain political party that desperately courts and survives on the support of its right wing religions. Within this small group, I am sure that most have heard the Biblical story of David and Absolam. That story boils down to one lesson learned. That lesson, mentioned here, is that there are two ways to kill a soldier. One, you can kill him yourself, and risk personal injury, or you can place him in a spot where you know he can not survive, and then pretend to mourn his loss. God specifically tells David that doing so is a sin. What we are doing to our best and finest, in the eyes of God, must then, using the same argument, also be a sin. For anyone to argue otherwise, means they 1) do not understand what God considers right or wrong, or 2) they have no clue what is going on in Iraq as we sit comfortable here and debate the issue.


Without religion to support themselves, no doubt some of this group will pull out the word “honor” to justify this quagmire we now find ourselves in. We need to honor our troops they will argue,


Saturday being Armed Services Day, allows me to honor our troops with this little story. There were two Vietnam Vets, hashing over old scars, and trading war stories. The topic of today’s war comes up, and one vet says to the other, “ what’s the president really thinking, doesn’t he have any self doubt?” The other one thinks for a while and says he had often wondered that as well. “Both of us, (the two vets) ”, he said, “ have self doubt. If you didnt’ wake up every morning asking yourself if you could still hit a home run and make it around the bases, you couldn’t be worth much.” The other one thought for a moment and then said, “I guess both Bush and Cheney cannot even consider the question of whether they are right or not. It is likely that neither can have any doubt because it then opens too many questions in their minds”. The other vet responded, “ He (Bush) says he is committed to pressing on in order to honor those who have fallen. To pull out now means that all those who are now dead, would have died in vain.” This seemed to agitate the other veteran immensely. “Has he thought this through?” he asked incredulously. “Your telling me that the president says we must press on to honor the memory of those who have fallen, right? Another way to say it, is that we have to have more of our men fall, in order to honor the memories of those who have already fallen.,,,,,,,,”


Perhaps you already recognized these two vets to be Powell and Armitage? (State of Denial, Bob Woodward,pg.325)


Oh Look, There's an SUV

Yesterday both Carper and Castle allowed themselves to be fixtures in the parade. Both seemed out of phase, Castle sprawled out like Paris Hilton on the back of a Corvette, and Carper trudging down Main Street, alone, like an isolated island within a sea of people. Perhaps it was nice that they were there, but neither candidate seemed comfortable fitting in well with the theme of honoring our troops. For both have voted for whatever reason, to give Bush as long as he wants to extend this war.


Calling a Congressman unpatriotic is nothing new. Hell, the republicans have been doing it every time someone dares mention the war is going badly. But the shoe is now upon the other foot. As evidence slowly accumulates, piece by piece, pointing all of us towards the realization that perhaps this war was in fact, truly masterminded by the Vice President, who, according to Senator Lautenberg, stands to reap flagrant financial rewards from his actions when he steps down from office, ……………….for any Congressman to continue to keep our troops in harm’s way, when the very people we went to protect see us as oppressors and consider us the enemy, can only be deemed to have some other viable interest at heart, and not the well being of our troops.


Honor our troops Congressmen. Stand up with 96 percent of America and work to bring our people home. Coming home now is not losing the war.. But staying longer, escalating the conflict, spilling even more blood, making things much worse for all Iraqi citizens, and then, sometime later, still bugging out and coming home empty handed, now THAT will be considered as losing the war.


Oh yes, I forgot to tell you about the subtle difference surrounding this year’s parade. There were missing people. All the marchers were either very old man or young kids still in school.. All the young, vibrant adult males (and females) who usually march, were strangely missing. I wonder where they were?