May 28, 2007
Just like last year, I marked Memorial Day by paying a visit to the Staunton National Cemetary. This was was different, however, as a large contingent (about 60, including spouses, etc.) of "Rolling Thunder" veterans paid their respects at this historical site. Before their motorcycles roared in, the civilian visitors to the cemetary were treated to a brief history lesson given by Mr. Ernest Petemines, a decorated Vietnam War veteran. He made it clear that we can all have different political opinions about the war, but the duty to serve one's country, and the respect that all Americans owe to our current and former armed service members, are paramount.
As the debates on Capitol Hill over war funding rage on, it is a good idea to step back and read some of the more thoughtful commentaries on the present strategic situation in the Middle East, and what the stakes are. Mohammed Fadhil wrote in the New York Daily News that the United States "should stay and fight," condemning those in the United States who want to pull our troops out precipitously. Dr. Fahdil (a dentist) is the author of the defiantly upbeat Iraq the Model blog, live from Baghad. He proclaimed:
It is up to us to show tyrants and murderers like Iran's Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Hezbollah's Hassan Nasrallah, Syria's Bashar Assad, and their would-be imitators who seek to control Iraq's people and wealth that we, the people, are not their possessions. They can't take out our humanity and they can't force us to back down.
In the Wall Street Journal, Bernard Lewis described how the successful U.S.-led response to the 9/11 attacks undermined the entire rationale of Osama bin Laden, who told his followers that the West was decadent and weak-willed. It is only since the last two years that the psychological edge has shifted back in the Islamists' favor, and in light of recent political trends, Lewis questions whether the American people have enough fighting spirit needed to prevail.
It's been quite a while since I've read his blog, but as the debates in Washington go on, it would be a good idea to read Steven den Beste's Strategic Overview of the war against Arab-Islamic terrorism. He lays out the case for war in very clear, rational, unemotional terms. (Link via Baseball Crank.)
I think the most important lesson for Memorial Day is that Americans need to stand together, whatever their political party or beliefs. As Abraham Lincoln said, "A house divided against itself cannot stand." In a free country such as ours, however, "standing together" means respecting the inevitable differences of opinion that arise, and defending the rights of loyal dissenters. We are a nation of free-thinking individuals, not a mob of conformists.