05/28/2007 @ 04:30 PM: I'm going to jump on a mini soap box for this one.
It's Memorial Day today, and that means a lot of different things for a lot of different people. Since I'm self-employed and don't get that seemingly wonderful thing known as a "paid vacation," Memorial Day is a rare Monday off. But the point and value of the day is not lost on me, especially when we're still in the midst of what has become a four-years-plus war. The Twin Cities newspaper Star Tribune regularly reports front-page on the deaths of service members from Minnesota and the surrounding states. I've made an effort to read the names and stories on all of them, as I honestly don't know of any other way to pay personal tribute to lost military folks from my area.
I've considered the war in Iraq a mistake from the beginning and have maintained a very consistent opinion of George W. Bush's leadership (or lack thereof). I am genuinely surprised by those who are themselves surprised at the current status of the war. In other words, the means by which we were led into the war meant it essentially couldn't have gone any other way. The amount of money it has cost is a very frustrating factor for me, but the amount of lives lost on all ends is beyond forgivable. Even if an invasion of Iraq was inevitable, better planning would have meant fewer lives lost, fewer Iraqi refugees, and perhaps a not so open-ended campaign. I also don't appreciate that as a nation we were never truly asked to sacrifice--as we had done in wars of the past--for the sake of our war efforts. We were sold a war in almost casual fashion, with all indications pointing to "normal" life back on the homeland; the costs, however, have been huge. We will be paying for the financial expense of the war for decades, and there will be significant social fallout not unlike that of the Vietnam War. (I generally try to avoid drawing parallels to the Vietnam War when discussing Iraq, but a souring public opinion and the post-war status of our troops will in all likelihood be extremely similar to the era following the Vietnam War.)
At no time have I agreed with the administration's rationale for going to war, but I have been steadfast in my support for our troops. They are following their orders as they have committed to do, and to use a very common but true term they are the finest military in the world. It frustrates me that an anti-war stance is often interpreted--or lends itself to the accusation--as being that of one who does not support our troops. I can only speak for myself, but that is certainly not the case. And so I've designated part of my day today as reflection time for those who are serving overseas and in dedication to the memory of those who have been lost and their surviving families and friends.