Ok...this is long and rambling, but the fallen heroes of the United States military, as well as those who serve and sacrifice today, deserve more than just 2 minutes of my time...
I heard Professor Schweikart on the radio about a week ago, and had to pick up what I knew had to be an amazing book. I have "A Patriot's Guide to American History
", so knew I couldn't go wrong with Schweikart's perspective. For all of you who grew up on the Howard Zinn interpretation of America, this is a perfect counterbalance, to even things out. I understand that Bill Bennett also has a new history book
In wake of the Haditha Marines story
, I thought I'd talk about what the mainstream media doesn't talk about enough (if ever at all): the goodness and nobility of the U.S. military.
They push every negative story on our soldiers, with little or no thoughts to the consequences during a time of war, and often seem to have already condemned them before all the facts are even in. So that accusations are treated as "it must be true". I suppose it's the nature of journalism. But it doesn't make it right. Once someone has been accused of rape or child molestation, no matter if there's nothing to the story, the damage is already done once the story is blurted out by the media, with blaring headlines (many people only look at the blurbs). The stigma is attached and the person's reputation tarnished. Similarly, we have mischaracterizing and misleading headlines about the NSA Surveillance programs, leading people to believe President Bush is "wiretapping" and listening in on your personal phone calls...that he is "domestic spying" . And if one doesn't follow the truth of the story, one is led to believe that abuses have happened at Guantanamo. Well...yes they have- but abuses to our soldiers by the detainees. Even before this recent event
, which did get some airplay, other abuses by the prisoners to their guards have not been as widely reported: feces, urine, and semen routinely being flung at the guards as they delivered food and water; of how guards found it necessary to blacken out their dog tags, because of threats from the inmates to contact al Qaeda operatives to look up their families on the internet. The real stories should have been on how guards would be assaulted, and given orders NOT TO RETALIATE. One soldier smacked a prisoner with a handheld radio to try and get him off of another MP. That soldier was dropped in rank. Another MP sprayed an inmate with a water hose, after the detainee doused the MP with water from his toilet. The MP was charged with assault. That is the kind of story that the media should be picking up on. In a backward kind of way, though, our military, in its public relations PC-driven policy-making, does ultimately help us look better in the eyes of the rest of the world. What any sane-thinking person will see, is how we are treating prisoners at "Club Gitmo" better than we treat our own people. 3 meals a day, including honey-glazed chicken and rice pilaf?! When the media complains about "torture" by reporting how some of the prisoners don't have working air conditioning- a luxury that our own soldiers aren't enjoying- who is made to look the more foolish?
While Representative Murtha is quick to condemn
our soldiers publically and prematurely, while we are in the middle of a war, the history of our military's integrity and sense of justice and lawfulness, speaks otherwise. When 60 Minutes "broke" the Abu Ghraib story by airing the photos given to them, the military was already conducting its own investigations and had months earlier, given a press release about it. Our nation and our military most of all, does not deserve to have thirty consecutive frontpage stories printed
on the Abu Ghraib "abuses" from April through May of 2004.
As Schweikart writes,
"When a Lieutenant Calley is discovered, he is prosecuted, as were four American soldiers in Sicily in July 1943 after they gang-raped an Italian woman. When those soldiers were arrested and their identities provbed beyond a reasonable doubt, all four were tried and hanged within two months. Two soldiers convicted of rape in France in 1944 were also hanged."
In comparison, Schweikart asks, "is there any evidence that the Japanese punished their own soldiers for these atrocities [referring to mass rapes and slaughter in Nanking, Java, Borneo, and elsewhere]?"
Frankly speaking, military justice is dealt out to the aberrations within our own midst, and we don't need the NY Times or Newsweek or 60 Minutes to inflame our enemies and the rest of the world against us, in the process.
More common than atrocities committed by our soldiers, are the acts of compassion...of bravery...of selfless sacrifice.
The Howard Zinn historians will want you to believe that racist America demonized the Japanese and interned our own citizens....failing to mention that our soldiers also risked their lives rescuing the Burmese, Filipinos, and others from Imperialist Japan. "Where is the racism that produced volunteer American pilots who arrived in China in the summer of 1941 to defend the Chinese?"
, writes Schweikart. While demonizing the Japanese enemy, we celebrated our Chinese, Filipino, and Korean allies as being heroic.
"Americans win wars because we value the dignity and worth of the individual, because we leave no man behind, and because we find the loss or incarceration of a single POW unacceptable."
Show me any other military in its 200 year history other than the U.S. military that has ever been anything but "benign in victory". What military other than ours ever conducts POW rescue missions? Or risks a "company to save a private, a division to save a company"? I don't believe there are examples of any of America's opponents ever making attempts to free their own prisoners by force of arms. Only the American military, will "leave no soldier behind". Such is our value placement on the sanctity of life. "Americans win wars because we value the dignity and worth of the individual, because we leave no man behind, and because we find the loss or incarceration of a single POW unacceptable."
Even in the treatment of our prisoners, how can anyone not believe that ours is the most humane military in the world? Unless you honestly believe that playing Christina Aguilera music constitutes torture (all kidding aside); that giving government-paid-for Korans and prayer rugs to killers who use their religion to fortify and justify their will to fight us, doesn't go far enough in "humane treatment" to our enemies.
When foreign armies are performing vivesections on their POWs, Bataan death marches, and other ghastly
, inhuman deeds, American soldiers will risk their lives for even those
trying to kill them
"Historian Samuel Eliot Morison wrote of innumerable incidents of treachery, such as a wounded Japanese soldier who stabbed to death a surgeon working to save his life; a drowning Japanese sailor who reached for a gun and shot his American rescuer as he turned to give him a cup of coffee....The Bushido-trained enemy, however, had no such conerns about prisoners. In the Gilberts, 22 Americans were beheaded by a single commander, and at Ballale, Japanese guards bayoneted 90. Even with those incidents clearly in mind, Americans remained willing to take prisoners, "
“Contemplate the mangled bodies of your countrymen, and then say 'what should be the reward of such sacrifices?'- Samuel Adams
Today is the day we celebrate Memorial Day. No longer the 30th, but falling on the last Monday in May, so that we may have a 3 day (or if you wish to consider Friday, a 4 day) weekend, I suppose. I don't begrudge my fellow countrymen their family barbecues and Memorial Day Weekend Sales. But we should all take the time out to ponder how it is that we are able to enjoy such luxuries; such blessings. Do not take a single moment of the day for granted. Everthing we have in our society- everything that is made possible here- is only because we have the best military in the world protecting us.
Yesterday I went, by myself, to see United 93. I was at Century City Shopping Center, newly reconstructed
in which they invested $150 million to upgrade the AMC theater movie experience and built a beautiful dining veranda.
It struck me, again, just how rich our country is. Not just in wealth, as a nation, but in the diversity of people. I watched one little girl led by the hand toward the restrooms, bawling with waterworks all over her cheeks, "I don't want to go potty!" A few teenage boys were acting like idiots.....one couple was holding hands, beaming. Everyone had their cell phones. How many of them thought about the meaning of Memorial Day? There have been times when I felt angry at my fellow citizens for not hanging flags from every neighborhood door, for seeming to pay more attention to their vanilla lattes and be immersed in their Gamecubes than to be paying attention to the battles in Iraq and Afghanistan....to the growing threat of a nuclear Iran...to the fact that we are in the middle of a war. But that day, was not the day. No, what I felt was blessed. Blessed that I can live in a country where people have the freedom to live carefree or solemn lives; to carry on like idiots if they must; to enjoy an afternoon movie, or mull over too many choices in refreshment drinks.....to listen to rap and hip hop wherever and whenever on their ipods; to be cool, decent folk, or be a complete moron and A-hole. We each have the freedom to live our lives however we choose. And all of that freedom is made possible by our military.
I am deeply grateful for the country that I have. And I hope to do everything I can to live a life worthy of the sacrifices of so many heroes. And to do what I can to help those they left behind.
A few military support organizations:Operation HomefrontSoldiers' AngelsWounded Warrior Project
Today is Memorial Day. Let's make sure that every American citizen understands the full significance of that. Forget what I wrote earlier, about not caring about people's carefree ignorance. That was earlier.
Thanks to all the enlisted men and women, and the retired veterans, as well. You are my brothers and sisters; my fellow countrymen who I love for protecting everything and everyone that I love. May those who currently serve overseas in the war, arrive home safely to their loved ones. I know they mean the world to you; and you to them. God bless you all! And God bless this, the greatest nation on God's green earth!
If you have a moment, help out Kat with Operation: Thanks for Freedom
. She's just asking for e-mails/cards.Mon, May 29 "America's Victories" will be featured on "Special Report with Brit Hume." Don't know the exact time segment yet. Earlier that morning, I'll be on Wisconsin Public Radio, 9:00 a.m.
Some previous posts:Photos of U.S. soldiers "terrorizing" Iraqi children
.Terrorism is not the answer
.Anti-war is not Pro-Peace
Heartening News from Abroad
I thought about linking to others...but the thing is, everyone's doing Memorial Day tribute posts. My recommendation? Just click on any of the links to my sidebar. I haven't come across a single post I haven't thoroughly enjoyed (well...at least the ones coming from the right side of the blogosphere, at any rate).
Labels: book review, Memorial Day, military, Veterans