Monday, May 07, 2007

The Legacy of War: Wisdom for My Loved Ones

As I read about more deaths of American soldiers every day as a result of President Bush's "surge" strategy in Iraq, I'm reminded again and again of the most powerful wisdom I've ever heard about war:

"War in the end is always about betrayal: betrayal of the young by the old, soldiers by politicians, and idealists by cynics."

These words were delivered in a speech by Chris Hedges, author of the 2002 book, "War Is A Force That Gives Life Meaning."

I served in the U.S. Army Reserves during the Vietnam War era. While our unit in Akron, Ohio was never called-up to serve overseas, we were on alert to go to the Kent State University campus on the day students were gunned down by Ohio National Guardsmen -- killing four students and wounding nine others. That was as close as I got to the reality of war in my lifetime. It was close enough.

Much has been written and said about the countless betrayals by politicians and military leaders during the Vietnam War. Now, with the Iraq War, we hear about the betrayal of our wounded soldiers when they come home for treatment. We even hear about a former CIA director betraying everyone in the White House (or vice-versa)!

Thankfully, to give me a "lived" perspective on war, I have an 85-year old friend I meet with for breakfast every week who served (and survived!) all five "theatres" of World War II. He knows about war in ways that none of our country's leaders (who never served) do. And, today, he is at the forefront of our local Veterans for Peace. It is his wisdom about war and peace -- the wisdom of an elder who cares deeply about his beloved country -- that I hope I can convey in the personal legacy I will leave to my sons, grandchildren, and the next generation.

What life experience . . . what legacy of war and peace . . . will you leave for your loved ones?
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