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Real American Heroes

Yesterday was Memorial Day. A lot of people were on television paying their respects to various family members and friends and acquaintances that have lost their lives in the war on terror. Most people are referring to their loved one who served in Iraq. Everybody talks about how their loved one loved life and had such a sense of justice and fairness. These people wanted to give back to the country that gave so much to their family by going off to war in Iraq and putting themselves on the frontline of a military engagement provoked by the United States.

We implicitly trust our President to do not just what is legal, however how marginally it passes for law, but what is truly right and what is actually honorable. We have been trained throughout our lives that we can trust the people who run our government. So when our President says that the country is going to war, most people will hop on that bandwagon without a single moment’s hesitation.

Unfortunately, a lot of the people who have gone off to way have come back severely injured. Some have returned home with missing limbs or injuries so severe parts of soldier’s body’s no longer function. Many of these survivors of war are paraded on the television as the epitome of courage and self sacrifice on behalf of a grateful public. Television news agencies regularly air reports of veterans with severe injuries that have no regrets. These people are more than happy with their condition because they made their sacrifice on behalf of their country. No more legs. No more vision. No more arms. No more being a whole individual.

I saw a veteran that was burned all over his body. He was originally given only a twenty percent chance to live. The man held on to life. But then the chances of him walking again weren’t very good but he managed to beat those odds as well. This man’s face was scarred beyond recognition. And all he wanted out of life was to return to duty in the fight in Iraq.

Most veterans who are disclosed on these television news shows are the embodiment of patriotism. No sacrifice is too great for our country. No burden is too great to bear. We are to believe that this is the typical American patriot. A GI Joe character brought to life in the battle against the agents of COBRA. But am I supposed to believe that none of these people harbor any resentment over the fact that they have paid so dearly for our country’s need for war?

I know I, along with everyone else being subjected to patriotic propaganda, am supposed to believe that no one feels that their sacrifice was too great. But the one thing that is true about human nature is that we run the gamut of any scale. While some people are quick to demonstrate their ability to withstand the greatest loss, others could not tolerate the most insignificant inconvenience. While we are regularly presented the veteran whose only regret is that he or she only has but one life to sacrifice for his or her country, where are the veterans who do regret the loss he or she may have suffered?

I can’t believe that every single veteran that comes home is happy to wave the red, white, and blue with intense fervor despite their injuries or their diminished mental capacity or their lack of emotional stability. Don’t the veterans who regret their participation in the war effort deserve to be heard? If we are supposed to be a nation that honors our veterans, don’t we honor all veterans including the ones that are bitter about coming home in a disabled condition? Even in their anger don’t they deserve our gratitude and deserve to be heard?

Or are we the type of people who are so shallow that we only appreciate the veterans who come back and make us feel good about sending our troops off to do the President’s bidding. Are we the type of people who want to sweep the angst of our soldiers coming home under a rug of patriotic fervor so thick that it makes impressionable young Americans want to volunteer to take their turn and put their life on the line in the war effort?

Not everyone who comes home wants to go back. Not everyone who lost a limb wants to go back and leave another. Not everyone whose body is burned beyond recognition can ignore the fact that their body has been scarred. Some people come home questioning this war on terror and the people who have pushed us into it. Not every injured veteran is a GI Joe commercial who fights for freedom wherever there’s trouble. Even the ones who are angry are real American heroes.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008 - Posted by | Life, Thoughts |

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