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Monday, May 30, 2005

For Memorial Day

This will be a brief and very "mom and apple pie" post.

On this day I have watched the motorcycles zoom by in formation on Route 95, I've heard their roar - the roar of Rolling Thunder. Those are the bikers who converge on Washington, DC every Memorial Day to honor their brothers and sisters in arms, those who have fallen in our nation's wars. The bikers are also veterans, many Vietnam vets. And they come to remember those that America turned its back on.

Vietnam was the first and only war we lost. And at the time, passions were running high. It was easy for those who opposed our government's Vietnam policies to blame the troops, who were mostly 19 year old kids.

I am opposed to the War of Choice in Iraq. I believe we entered that war under false pretenses and have done much harm to our standing at home and abroad. We have never been more hated in the Muslim world and disrespected in Europe. I hope in some small measure that our actions have brought some good to the Iraqis, but I have my doubts about that too.

The one thing I do not doubt, though, is that our many soldiers there are serving honorably. The problems of disrespect for the Koran and mistreatment of Iraqi prisoners of war are not the action of a few renegade guards but part of a much more widespread pattern of tacit encouragement for these reprehensible actions from the very top of the military hierarchy and from their civilian bosses at the Pentagon. I believe low level guards were led to believe that what they were doing was accepted behavior. So far, we have only seen the tip of the iceberg on this.

And so I want to issue a plea to all those, who like me, oppose this war, to please still honor the troops. Many are our next door neighbors. They are idealists who have been willing to make the ultimate sacrifice to protect your freedom and mine. They too have been misled by some in our government.

I protested the war in Vietnam. And after that war I volunteered at a Vietnam Veterans of America center that helped vets get back on their feet. (By the way, Senator John Kerry was instrumental in getting the funding for these centers.) From the vets that I met there, as well as from friends who had been in Vietnam Veterans Against The War, I learned a tremendous amount of respect for the men and women in uniform.

This is their day. And it is our day to remember their many sacrifices and to say thank you.

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