Sacrificing Wealth

Reprinted from PN/Paraplegia News December 2015

Older men declare war. But it is the youth that must fight and die ~ Herbert Hoover

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As we approach the end of the year and what’s usually a holiday season, I recently stopped my busywork to spend time with the son of a friend. I’ve known Nash since he was a boy in the same school my son attended. He didn’t have a lot of time because he was returning to the Air Force base he was assigned and his unit was about to embark for overseas assignment.  When he left, I wasn’t in a joyous mood.  
Although I was an officer and he was an enlisted man, we talked about things we had shared in common during the time we spent on active duty. Though during different times and doing different things, we spoke of things we had still experienced that were the same even though mine was in the jungles of Vietnam and his will be in desert of the Gulf Region.
I had finished my time in combat in the mid-1960s and he was about to embark on his.  We discussed things that still were the same some 50 years later. He was loading aircraft with some of the same weapons that I had shot or dropped during my time on active duty and prior to injury. I had dropped “dumb” bombs and he was loading aircraft with the same bombs, but now they were “smart” because they had unique gadgets added to their nose or tail areas. Same goes for missiles, too.
After he left, I thought for a while about how things were the same even though a quarter of a century had passed. We have young men and women, some of whom are flying the same aircraft their fathers flew, still engaged in the same kind of conflict even though the geography has changed.
Politicians are still making decisions on how to fight wars even though we thought we learned better the first time. I could write a magazine on what I think about that! Especially when it comes to which targets to hit and when.
Our country was founded by people who were immigrants and escaping the tyranny of abusive rulers. We all had one thing in common — a desire to have the freedoms and rights ensured to us that our founding fathers set forth in the Constitution. This document has been the foundation of many countries which have been established since our founders wrote the “living” document we still rely on for guidance.
What we had that doesn’t seem to exist in the area we’re now spending our national treasure in blood and money is a desire to fight for liberty and justice for all and keep it. We’ve been in the Gulf Region for 25 years and we’re still fighting for the same ground or “helping” the people who should own that ground.  
The common thing missing, whether it’s Iraq, Afghanistan or wherever, is the “keep it.” As soon as the 15 nations who’ve participated with armed help and 18 who’ve given unarmed aid leave, it seems the situation returns to some semblance of what started the fighting.  
I don’t know when our leaders will understand that you can’t import democracy. People of a country have to want it and be willing to die to keep it. So far, we haven’t seen that take place. If you look at history, whether it’s the United States, France or others, the die part has to exist.  
Those of us who spend time in our nation’s veterans hospitals and especially the spinal-cord injury centers can see examples of what I mean by the spending of blood and money.  Those of us who’ve been visitors or residents of the hospitals and centers are examples of the willing to die and sacrifice part.
So, regardless of your faith, let us pray that this seemingly unending sacrifice of our wealth soon comes to an end and we won’t send our youth to faraway lands to help those who seem unable or unwilling to help themselves.
Let us pray our political leaders learn that when they decide to go to war to give the running of the war to those trained to do so. Let us also pray our leaders can have differences without them being personal and turning into hatred and viciousness. We’re a better country than having them act as selfish 2-year-olds.
So, Nash, as you leave for an adventure I pray you’ll learn from it. I pray you’ll come home safe and sound to those who love you and that you’ll be a father who doesn’t have to send his child into harm’s way. I pray you can come home to a nation better than the one you left. May God bless you and all those who go with you. 


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