Monday, March 24, 2008

Stout-hearted Men

...and women. All sizes, ages and shapes. 4000 of them. Fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters, friends and lovers. Gone.

I find the timing of the fifth anniversary of this war, the 4000th lost American and Easter an interesting convergence of events.

Unlike the legend of Easter where Christ rises from the dead, these 4000 will not. They are lost forever to their families and to their country. All the potential they carried within them, all the life not yet lived, lost - forever.

That these lives are being lost at a slower pace than before, that there are far fewer of them than in Vietnam or Korea is of little significance. They are still gone. Others step forward to fill their space. That we have such men and women in this country that choose to do so is a testament to the inherent decency of our people. We are indeed fortunate to have that decency as part of our moral fiber.

What might be well remembered, however, is the majority of these warriors are our young hailing from modest backgrounds. Far different from those who created the circumstances in which they find themselves.

We are told the cause is just and that success is vital. I wish I could recall just what that cause is and just what success is so vital. It's partially why I've chosen to look at a new brand of leadership for my country. One that will not take us into an unprovoked war, one that is not driven by personal ideology. One that recognizes those for whom we're sacrificing our soldiers don't care enough about that "cause" to take it on themselves nor agree that "success" means just that. Taking it on themselves.

It's why I agree it's time to end the carnage. Yes. It will continue after we are gone. That is their will. We cannot change that. Perhaps it is time for the rest of the world to step back and let the region deal with it's own demons. The rest of the world seems far more willing to do this than we are; they are far more proximate to it, have lived with that proximity for as long as the conflicts have existed and perhaps understand far better than we that there are some things, no matter how unjust they may seem to us, that we cannot change.

Billions of our dollars have gone into this war. How much better could it have been spent within our own borders? It is lamented that we've never been asked to sacrifice for this war. Go shopping. Yet we can't afford the gas to get to the stores. We can't afford the goods or the foodstuffs when we do get there and can't afford the mortgages on the homes we want to return to. Our phone conversations and e-mails can be intercepted with impunity. We can't board a plane, enter or leave the country without the indignity of searches. You think this is not sacrifice? And when you write a post such as this you will be branded in some circles as being unpatriotic.

One thing we do still have, however, deep down in, is that spirit of goodness and decency. Just look at the 30,000 or so veterans who have come back from the horrors of war mentally and/or physically altered for the rest of their lives. They fight once again, odds many of us would consider insurmountable, because of who they are as individuals and who we are as a people.

Those of you who would be our leaders, look at them, see them, thank the Almighty for them but do not abuse the privilege of leadership by misinterpreting the power of war over the power of peace.

From "New Moon" by Sigmund Romberg/Frank Mandel/Laurence Schwab and Oscar Hammerstein II

Give me some men who are stout-hearted men,
Who will fight, for the right they adore,
Start me with ten who are stout-hearted men,
And I'll soon give you ten thousand more.
Shoulder to shoulder and bolder and bolder,
They grow as they go to the fore.
Then there's nothing in the world can halt or mar a plan,
When stout-hearted men can stick together man to man.

Ah, yes. As is often the case lyrics can be inspirational and true. But be cautious, those tens of thousands are dwindling rapidly!


The New Arch Druid's take on the news said...

Dave was asking on HBO if I in fact "knew anyone" who had died in Iraq or Afghanistan. No. Not personally. But, in a way, they are still my brethren in arms.

I can't argue with the post. But if there were words to add to the song, they may go thusly, when you gave me your men, your stout hearted men, when you gave them to me in the thousands, the tens of thousands and more. I returned to you broken men, men no longer of valor, in the hundreds and thousands and more. For I am war. I am Ares, God of War. Thank you for posting this.

Anonymous said...

Oh dear Druid....they will always be "men of valor". You may break a mans body, never his ethics.CU