Another Memorial Day has come and gone.
Almost 100 years ago, when my father was four years old and still spoke only Norwegian, we went to war. Well, during the past 100 years we've been at war, arguably, for most of the time or preparing for war. World Wars, Asian wars, Middle Eastern and South Asian wars. Oh, and short-lived invasions in the Caribbean and Central America, which we do periodically just to keep in practice. I've had the pleasure of being shot at on several continents. Try to explain that to your grandchildren.
Over here, over there, the Yanks are coming. And coming. We've been invading, occupying, saving almost everyone. Korea, Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan, plus supporting the Contras, invading Grenada and Panama, and god knows how many other operations. Disastrous episodes (Lebanon, the attempt to rescue hostages in Iran, the Mayaguez incident) aside, I applaud special ops to rescue people as well as non-lethal cyber endeavors.
But, perhaps it is time to stay at home?
I'm not saying there are no bad guys, or that we do not need to keep vigilant. No pacifist here. Yet if we make more enemies as we intervene and occupy, or multiply extremists with each errant drone strike, let's defend the streets of Boston or London first using every technology we have available -- sure and a raid to kill Osama. But let us stop before the means obscure ends.
We're just on the heels of Memorial Day weekend. I didn't want to go into the Army, but my father who fought in the Battle of the Bulge would not accept, in his words, any son that would not stand up for his country. Well, Jesus Christ, what a challenge. Can't say that I faced the Wehrmacht, as he did, but at least I put on the uniform. He was proud just for that.
I was proud, too, in years later to say that I had at least worn a U.S. Army uniform, and proud that I had once in a while been in harm's way. Well, proud isn't the right word. Frightened. Whenever I go to the black granite wall, and recall some of the 58,000 names I knew, many of whom from basic training or AIT. Never will forget the kid from Guam. Never. He loved his mother, but never made it back. Wish I had known where Guam was.
I am relieved that my name is not there and that I had a chance for two daughters. Others did not.
As we mourn yet more war dead and grievously injured from the last decade of warfare, let's promise ourselves no more. No intervention in Syria. No grinding savagery of "Hamburger Hill" some 44 years ago.
This is a time to heal while defending, to wonder both what we have done and to repair our wounds. It is time to stay home. Stay vigilant, defend the homeland, find and kill bad guys who plot ill against American and friendly peoples, but keep the boots right here.
What we have learned in the last century is that global warfare does not produce security. And, that security does not require only muscle but smarts.