Veteran’s Day

Veteran’s Day

VeteransDAyToday is a controversial American holiday. Many of us are reluctant to celebrate America’s wars. Yet we can’t ignore the life stories of those who have become conflated with them.

During my life time, which began just after World War II, America has fought far too many wars. I supported Obama to end some of them, but instead he’s ratcheting up the War in Iraq, again.

In my new novel, Chasm Gorge, I tell a story of an American president starting still another war.

For someone like myself it’s an intellectual challenge to praise the soldiers who fight America’s wars.

America’s armies, today, are radically different than when I was a boy.

Today America’s fighting forces are entirely voluntary (with the subtle distinction that “reserve” soldiers, those who have technically retired or enrolled mostly as home guards are now being routinely called upon as active troops).

This differs radically from WWII and before, when the bulk of our armies were conscripted from young men. It was a mandated responsibility for young men approaching their third decade to be prepared to serve in the military if called.

The transition to an all-volunteer force was accomplished fairly easily by raising soldier pay and benefits. As America became more of a war fighting country, the rich also become more powerful, the poor parts of society enlarged, and so becoming a soldier was actually a good job choice.

Much of America’s armies, like ancient Rome’s and Persia’s, are opportunities for the oppressed and downtrodden to break out of an endless cycle of hopelessness. It’s therefore hard to criticize these young people for joining the American military.

The least advantaged are often those who their society takes the greatest advantage of. I morally condemn in the strongest sense most of America’s past and present wars. But my heart goes out to the vast majority of Americans who fought them, like my father.