Veterans Day, 2004
This Veterans Day is more special than others because American soldiers are engaged in combat at this very moment, in Fallujah. The city is largely under U.S. control now, but the ability of Iraqi government police to maintain the peace remains in grave doubt. Lack of willpower and leadership on the part of the friendly government forces is one of the valid parallels with Vietnam. Belmont Club has press statement by an Iraqi resistance leader that sheds light on the strategy of the formerly dominant Sunni faction. The factionalized sociopolitical structure in Iraq stands in sharp contrast to Vietnam, having both postive and negative aspects. For thoughtful perspectives on what's going on in Iraq, I'd recommend Sgt. Stryker. For an opportunity to make a real difference in the lives of those who have made bodily sacrifices, visit Disabled American Veterans.
Some heroes never get to become veterans, however. It is for those who have died in service of our country that we have Memorial Day. Today's Washington Post included another installment of the "Faces of the Fallen," an appropriate way to remind ourselves of the human cost of war. (Pictured are, clockwise from the top left, Sgt. Jack Hennessy, Sgt. Russell Collier, Spc. Christopher Merville, and Pfc. Oscar Martinez.)
Until 1954, Veterans Day was known as Armistice Day, commemorating the end of The (First) World War in 1918. Even as we honor the sacrifices of soldiers, airmen, and sailors, we might also reflect on the original meaning of this holiday by celebrating peace -- when we are so fortunate -- or else by rededicating ourselves to understand how peace is best preserved.