In the build-ups during World Wars I and II, the army had to quickly construct dozens of new forts across the country. Most were named for military heroes, and most of the ones in the south were named for Confederate generals.
On June 5, Staff Sergeant Robert Bales, pleaded guilty to 16 counts of murder in the massacre of 16 Afghan villagers, mostly children, in March last year. In no way do I condone his heinous act, but in my opinion, when Bales' foot was blown off, his Army career should have been over.
One (of thousands) example of how we lost the war for the hearts and minds of the Iraqi people was our shoddy management of the things we built. We're repeating those same mistakes in Afghanistan, this time with potentially fatal results.
Think about how much $5 billion could buy in education and re-integration and counseling and all the other things our returning soldiers need. Nobody is going to care who looked cooler than whom in Iraq and Afghanistan - or Vietnam for that matter.
Growing up in the military, I learned that Veterans Day was meant to celebrate peace and those who returned from service to America and her values of liberty, justice, and honor. As a point of distinction, Memorial Day commemorates sacrifice and loss: the ultimate cost of freedom.
As we mourn yet more war dead and grievously injured from the last decade of warfare, let's promise ourselves no more. This is a time to heal while defending, to wonder both what we have done and to repair our wounds.
I never thought quitting was in my DNA. I never thought about giving up. I was strong. I played football at West Point. I was an officer in the U.S. Army. I had a wonderful marriage and two beautiful children. But war can change you. War can turn you inside out.
While my husband was deployed, money was no longer tight. Yes, during that year, my husband was being compensated, and rightly so. How much would you expect someone to be paid for giving up things that can't be given back?
War is a force that has given me meaning. When I came home, it was war that ultimately forced me back into the mountains and into wilderness. I learned of the joy of an alpine start and a mountain top sunrise.
And so it was in June of 1995 that Steven Spielberg, General Schwarzkopf and I pressed a big green button on stage at Digital World that turned on Starbright World for kids in hospital beds around the country.