Today is Memorial Day in the United States and while we gather for cookouts, afternoons at the pool and family reunions, lets not forget the real reason for the holiday. My Father was a veteran of the Vietnam War, serving a one year tour of duty as a helicopter pilot. He left for Southeast Asia when I was just a few months old. I of course don't remember any of that but no doubt it was very hard on my Mother. Dad never talked much about the war or what it was like. I learned at a young age not to push it and generally let him be.
It was only later in his life, as his death approached, that he was finally ready to share what he did and saw all those years ago. It was, in short, the most horrific experience of his life, a view that is shared by any veteran of any war. War is sometimes necessary, look no further than World War II, but all too often, it is not. Politicians who never served a day in their lives have never been shy about sending young boys and now girls off to war where if they are lucky enough to survive, they are a mental mess for the rest of their lives.
It does not matter how justified the war is, for all are horrible and the experiences of combat veterans are nightmares that most of us are lucky never to experience. Still, despite the horrors of war, these brave young men and women are ready to serve so that others won't have to. They are the best of the best and they deserve so much more than a simple thank you. What they deserve most is never to be sent into harms way unless absolutely necessary. The ongoing carnage in Iraq and Afghanistan were never necessary. Bring them home now.