Not wanting to sound like Andy Rooney, but: I am sick of being told to “support our troops” or “thank a veteran”.
Let me explain. Americans have never been able to think impartially about America as a big power. Some think America is God’s chosen land; others that might makes right; still others, most of us, I guess, who just don’t think much about it but are glad we live in a place with such abundance and such freedom and don’t want to give it up. It’s as if we were potential victims of a burglary, but a cop caught the burglar before any break-in: we’d be very thankful, very grateful to the officer who did that. We’d be grateful even if we knew that officer was a sexist, a racist, or a wife-beater.
Americans have been fed a steady diet of how good we were to come to Europe’s aid in 1917; how selfless the Wilson plan was; how reluctant we were to enter WW2, and how wonderfully we acquitted ourselves in that war. But those wars were very different from each other, and both are very different from all the other wars in which we’ve engaged since 1865. How many of these can anyone objectively say were morally justified?
- Indian Wars (1865 – 1870)
- Spanish – American War (1898)
- Philippine Insurrection (1899 – 1902)
- “Banana” Wars (1898 – 1935)
- World War 1 (1917 – 1918)
- Russian Intervention (1919)
- World War 2 (1941 – 1945)
- Korean War (1950 – 1953)
- Vietnam War (1965 – 1973)
- Grenada (1983)
- Panama (1989)
- Gulf War (1991)
- Afghanistan (2003 – present)
- Iraq (2003 – present, no matter what Obama says)
And that’s just the big stuff that’s in the history books. For a complete list of American military actions, look here.
Tell you what. Give us back Veterans Day as a remembrance of World War 1, as it was meant to be. Give us another day, say, Memorial Day, for World War 2. And let’s just agree — or let others not be accused of disloyalty if they maintain — that the other wars and military actions do not constitute so great a legacy as to require anyone to reaffirm some servile fealty to one’s nation.