Sunday, May 04, 2008


Recently, I saw a group of young California National Guard soldiers coming home from Iraq. They were interviewed: great to be home, they did lots of good, helped the people, think they did the right thing. Hope we won't cut and run. As much as I respect the soldiers and their sacrifices and even understand them, it sounded like an official denial news conference. Drives me crazy.

I always realize that soldiers have to believe in what they are doing, regardless of the facts. Even in Vietnam, I can remember feeling that we are really helping these people. It was only after the war and I began to read and understand that I came to know what a farce it was. It does not mean that we didn't do our duty and many Vietnam vets will see it entirely different. And, these soldiers will see their war from a different perspective in several months or years than they do now. I always think that, like Vietnam, we have to get past the very subjective feelings of young soldiers returning from a traumatic experience--simply, they must believe in that experience. It is human nature. However, those of us who care must see the big picture. It is our job.

This is not easy. The soldier has sacrificed in various ways and cannot be told that his/her sacrifices are in vain. For older military types, especially the officers, they will see it more as their job and many even in advancing their careers; but, the young returning veteran will see it more visceral, more present, he has done this noble thing. And, with so few having had military experience, they don't know how to identify with the returning vet or what to say. "I've just returned from Iraq." The response: "Oh."

Maybe a grandmother, I think, who welcomed her grandson home, expressed it best. When asked about her grandson she said something like, "He served his country and I'm proud of him." Absolutely true. He served his country. Our country sent him to war. Regardless of how we feel about the war, we have to affirm what these young troopers are doing. God bless them.

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