Well, tonight I had dinner at Golden Corral, their annual "Military Appreciation Dinner". I sat there with a friend of over 25 years, also veteran, surrounded by men and women - all of them complete strangers - with whom I shared one bond. We had all served in our nation's military.
There were veterans of the Second World War, Korea, Viet Nam, and the various conflicts of the Cold War, along with those, like me, who'd never heard a shot fired in anger. A guy off to one side had DJ equipment and was playing patriotic music and Boy Scouts were helping bus the tables for the overworked staff. I felt things I hadn't felt in a long time, a sense of belonging being one of them, and remembered things from my service over 20 years ago.
I thought about all these things, then I thought about the current debate over Iraq. Recently, I read a short biography of actor Henry Fonda. Fonda was something of a liberal, and was best friends with Jimmy Stewart. The two had shared an apartment twice in their years coming up in New York and Hollywood. In World War II, both enlisted. Stewart became an officer commanding bomber crews in the Army Air Corps, personally flying 20 official and an unknown number of off-the-books missions over Germany, including the October 14th, 1943 raid on Schwienfurt where roughly one plane in five didn't return. Fonda enlisted in the Navy and ended up an officer in an Intelligence billet in Hawaii.
Fonda and Stewart were best friends, yet Stewart was a staunch conservative and Fonda a liberal. But they were *not* the kind of conservative and liberal we see grabbing TV Air Time today. They could disagree and be friends. They didn't stage protests dressed up in idiotic colors claiming to "support the troops" while with the same breath denouncing the war those troops are fighting.
Here's my point, and if you are a "this war is illegal, impeach Bush" kind of liberal, pay attention.
You cannot denouce the war *and* support the troops. Pick one.
You see, while that would have worked in Viet Nam, it can't today. In the 60s, we had a conscipt army - the draft. Today's military is *all* volunteer. Everyone currently serving thier first term of enlistment volunteered *after* we went into Iraq and things didn't turn out as well as we'd have liked. That's over 3 million Americans that haven't voted at the ballot box in favor of freedom for Iraqis, but they've voted with their feet, risking thier very lives to bring freedom to people that have never known it.
I'll discuss with anyone whether or not we should have gone in. But now we are there and no matter what course we choose, there will be consequences. Pulling out, suddenly, before the job is done, is a slap in the face of all those who served in Iraq. And Henry Fonda would have agreed completely.
4 months ago