On Veteran’s Day in 2009, I wrote that I believe, as a nation, we have an easier time memorializing our dead than respecting our living veterans.
Except, of course, when the dead are our own.
The nation is still in the grips of a conflict, the price of which is abstract for the majority of our citizens. Politicians who have never served and would discourage their own children from service determine when and where to use our nation’s military. Talking heads with as little actual military experience debate policies for the supposed edification of the viewers who have only the weakest ties to anyone serving and deploying.
Our economy took a huge dive, beginning in 2008 and yet there are no war-time rations or bond drives or collections.
The majority of our country remains untouched by the sacrifices of war as our armed forces increasingly transforms into a professional warrior caste. And to these Americans, unfamiliar with service, the sheepdogs look more and more like the wolves. One need only look at the vitriolic responses to military family concern during the lead-up to a possible shutdown to see how certain segments of the population view the military.
And so, we will have our parades and waive our flags and bring flowers to the graves of our dead warriors. These heroes who gave so much deserve to be remembered.
And I hope that the American public remembers that honoring the living is another way to memorialize the dead.