I understand that questioning the collective blind, adoring support of our military troops is (to understate) a politically incorrect concept. I've seen so many, particularly those burdened with the heavy invisible backpacks of liberal guilt, including myself, quickly amend their anti-war sentiments with an automatic "of course, I support the troops, 100%." Really? Always?
My husband, The Pilot, is ex-military, as are many of our friends. Loved ones have served in Iraq. I am hardly anti-military.
And I honor and support the human traits of courage, strength, loyalty and selflessness, in military and all other endeavors.
But really, are all soldiers, just by virtue of enlisting (or becoming officers) automatically entitled to my adoration?
My heart goes out to all of those caught in grievous situations, torn from their families, mired in a political, religious and cultural swamp. My heart breaks for all of our citizens who are injured or die in combat, on a foreign soil, far away from home.
But my heart equally breaks for the thousands of innocents we are killing on their own soil, in their own homes.
A former boyfriend of mine, in the National Guard (and probably in Iraq now, who knows?) kept telling me he wanted to "serve his country." I guess I was questioning him a bit about his military involvement. I asked him why he couldn't serve his country by becoming a teacher, or some other public servant. He felt called to military service, and I respected that.
Judging from the stories I have heard back from Iraq, our troops and civilian security and other forces are on the whole pretty miserable, and have found themselves in an exhausting, dangerous, confusing, surreal experience. I imagine there are thousands of Iraqi citizens feeling pretty similarly right about now.
Our citizens need the unconditional support (fiscal, intelligence, equipment, honesty) from the people who sent them there, not necessarily from me.
Again, my heart breaks. This war, most wars, make me think of lemmings, following each other off a cliff (do they really do that, or is it a myth?) But that's not the right metaphor. That metaphor is somewhat patronizing and reveals my arrogance; it assumes that the individuals don't fully realize what they are doing. That they have not made fully-informed choices. Otherwise, they wouldn't be killing people in a bogus occupation, right?
However, if our troops are not blindly obeying (as they are trained, as they must, to be unflinchingly combat-ready), and if they are wide awake and aware and thus have personal responsibility for their actions, for the killings that they are perpetuating, then I will not, and cannot, blindly support them all.
Not as some cozy, fuzzy, yellow-ribboned, ideal, anyway.
I support their pain and the fact that they must make impossible choices under questionable circumstances, and that they are away from home, and that's about the best I can do today.
Happy Veteran's Day.