11 November 2003

it's veterans' day -- a good holiday, in my estimation, given the tremendous sacrifices that many veterans have made for this country. i'm just irritated that sentiments like "tremendous sacrifices for one's country" have begun to sound so hackneyed and false. i'd like to thank my grandparents for helping to defeat hitler, but all the available words have been hijacked by the bush administration.

it doesn't do to speak of the mission of world war two in anything less than large, historic terms. grandma weber lived far from home in a crowded house in a rough philly neighborhood, and worked really hard every day in the WAC. meanwhile, grandpa weber was slightly wounded in the european theatre, and the botched surgery that followed left him mostly deaf and partially paralyzed for the rest of his life. grandpa hoover was a medic who was among the first americans on the scene at the liberation of ravensbruck concentration camp. grandma hoover was in minneapolis, supporting her entire family.

here's something i believe: war is bad, always. here's something else: there are necessary wars, or at least wars that accomplish necessary things. they are not to be entered into lightly: to compound the horrors of war with the frivolity of ambition or politicking is incredibly dishonorable. somehow, that is exactly what our country has done. or rather, that is exactly what the forces of wealth and power that control such decisions in our country have done.

president bush, as amply documented elsewhere (read krugman's nyt column today, just for example), apparently has no sense of the appalling suffering he has caused. he has never served in any war. in fact, he purposefully avoided vietnam. nevertheless, for some reason he gets to be the one to talk about "sacrifice" and "honor" today; he feels free to impugn the patriotism of anyone who suggests the ruthless frivolity of his iraq campaign.

...and meanwhile, the iraq wounded, and the families of the dead -- not to mention the iraqi civilians wounded, killed and uprooted by the conflict -- though no less herioc than those who gave their lives or their health in world war two, are left without the solace of exalted humanitarian purpose that was afforded the veterans of previous generations.

i hope that senior members of the bush administration feel personally responsible for each and every casualty in the iraq campaign, and that they acknowledge their misconstructions and dissembling, and that they ask forgiveness of both the people they have specifically harmed and the country as a whole (not to mention God, who is probably pretty pissed about the way God's name has been used during this long PR battle). i hope they do it today -- that would certainly be appropriate.

after all, it would be nice for me to have the words to write something wholehearted for veterans' day.