I would like to take this opportunity to apologize to two groups of Americans: our military veterans, and all senior citizens who are members of the World War II era, also known as The Greatest Generation. I want to apologize for myself and my generation not doing our part to be more like you. You sacrificed, took risks, did without, and delayed gratification of one sort or another for a cause greater than yourselves.
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My generation and the rest of the American population has been rather cowardly when it comes to defending our liberties. Not that we have not had plenty volunteer for military service, because we have. Our cowardice has been in not standing up to our own government's weakness, deceit, and manipulation. You see, we have now endured several "wars" which have been pathetic, at best. Not the actions of our soldiers, but the actions of our government and the inaction of our citizens.
Most recently, by my count, we have been "at war" for nearly a decade. But honestly, we are not a nation "at war". We are not doing without. We are not stopping our lives to band together, uniting against a common enemy foreign or domestic, fighting to win at all costs, while demanding that our soldiers and citizens be kept out of harm's way unless absolutely necessary.
What have we sacrificed to get the ugly job done, whatever the goal is? Where is the sugar rationing? Where is the rubber shortage? Where is the shortage of workers when all available men have gone off to do difficult but necessary tasks? There is no Rosie the Riveter here. Instead, we are told to keep showing up at our cubicles each weekday, and at the malls on weekends. Keep shopping. Keep refinancing our mortgages. And keep watching the war on TV.
We are a rich nation of 300 million people, and we cannot win and end a war? We cannot catch, imprison, or kill our enemy once and for all? We cannot be done with ugly, tragic, and expensive actions and get on with being a kinder, gentler nation? If we were truly "at war", we could achieve this end in 1 day. What a ridiculous scam. And we fell for it, voted for it, sat by and watched it happen.
We lined up like patriotic lemmings with flags on our lapels and allowed groups of privileged men to orchestrate a never-ending series of wars, while most of them NEVER went to war, let alone served their country in uniform. We allowed them to repeatedly install, train, and fund villains that we trembled in fear of, like the boogie man under our bed. Red enemies, yellow enemies, and now anyone tan or with a turban on.
I am not a veteran, so I cannot speak as if I am any better than other non-veterans. But how ironic, that when these ChickenHawks had the opportunity to actually BE in one of those wars they so eagerly send our sons and daughters off to die in, they "had other priorities." Someone aspiring to be Commander-In-Chief chose to serve 4 years of a 6 year enlistment in a stateside National Guard unit, and somehow took a few years leave after that. Second in command claimed marriage as his out. One received seven deferments by teaching business school. Another used his religion's "study abroad" requirement to escape service. Yet another dodged the draft by enrolling in college acting classes. One had a terrible knee, but somehow was able to keep playing in the NFL for 8 more seasons. The cream of this crop had a cyst on his bottom that prevented him from heroic duty. And there are hundreds more.
As detestable as this is to me, I must say I am even more ashamed of our apathy in not defending our own soldiers and citizens from harm. We sit idly by and allow paper warriors to wrap themselves in our sacred flag, shouting out like bullhorns and rattling the sabers of vengeance. We send soldiers into "wars" without enough armor, no clear and definable goal, and no national courage to actually use our might to bring the war to a quick and absolute end. We give up some liberties for our common security, only to allow it to be used to snoop on political enemies. Elderly widows are frisked at the airport to show how serious we are about "homeland security", while the majority of cargo luggage, out of public view, skates through unexamined. We buy the sham, and keep buying those luxury goods and services. Oh, how the mighty have fallen.
Those who stand up and call the charlatans to the carpet are questioned as unpatriotic. Why is that? Why is it that the folks fighting AGAINST wars and the folks FIGHTING wars are divided? Why are those who protest wars, and those with loved ones carelessly tossed to the dogs of war, are shouting at each other from opposite sides of the street? Why are they not on the same side, there is plenty of room on that curb. We could use a few more radicals at Support The Troops rallies, and a few more moms of soldiers at war protests. Why do we so easily succumb to the "divide and conquer" wedges of class, race, and religion?
Our voluntary duping, apathy, and lemming-like acquiescence to this manipulation is something I have not done my part to rail against, either. I have been too busy consuming, getting, living it up. Certainly not sacrificing. It is embarrassing. Shameful. For that, Greatest Generation and all American veterans, you have my sincere apology. I should have been protecting and looking out for you the way you have protected me. I am relieved that my father and his father are not alive to see this dereliction of civic duty and sorry state of affairs. I am just sorry we did not wait until the rest of The Greatest Generation had passed on, before falling so short of their example.
First they came for the communists, and I did not speak out--
because I was not a communist;
Then they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out--
because I was not a socialist;
Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out--
because I was not a trade unionist;
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out--
because I was not a Jew;
Then they came for me--
and there was no one left to speak out for me.
- Martin Niemoeller, 1946
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