May 28th, 2007

Halloween Cat

Fightin' For

My father was a WWII combat pilot. He flew in Italy, both as part of the RAF (prior to 1941) and then after, as a member of the Army Air Corps. Like a lot of WWII vets, he didn't talk much about his time in the service, but he was fiercely proud of it and this country, sometimes a little too much so (he was very much a "love it or leave it" sort of Ultra Conservative of the time - which I sometimes wonder about, what he'd think about these days).

So I grew up very patriotic myself. I have an American flag on my DashMat (special ordered that way), and I didn't have to go searching for a flag after 9/11 - I always have had one, everywhere I go. I always flew it on the proper flag day occasions, and I hang it in a place of honor within the house rather than trying to fold it properly on my own. The flag that draped Dad's casket is folded correctly, in a triangular oak box with a glass front.

As I grew up and gained my own perspectives, I knew she could often be, and had been, very wrong. But I still loved her and held my head up high at the thought of being American... Then the Iraqi war and W. Bush came along, and I found myself losing a lot of that patriotism. I was for the first time in my life ashamed of America and Americans. I stopped wanting to fly the flag. I felt let down, angry, and more than a little betrayed.

Today I did put out the flag, at noon, like one is supposed to (since I can't fly it half-staff prior to then); and I thought about it. Much of my love of country is obviously still there, it's worked into the fabric of my being. I know that one of the reasons I dislike Bush as much as I do is because I feel he robbed me of that love of country. Made me feel deeply wrong for it.

But today - today is about the Veterans, including my father, who fought for something else. Their Great War was not based on lies and deceit, America was not shoved into it through fearmongering tactics and doctored intelligence. Franklin D. Roosevelt did not declare war on Japan after the Attack on Pearl Harbor and then suddenly up and decide to invade some other country he was irritated with. When he used December 7, 1941, as his Day of Infamy, he didn't continue to use it as a tool to keep Americans fearful. Indeed, well before 12/7, he'd told America that the only thing we had to fear was fear itself. He asked Americans to sacrifice, from each soldier and marine and sailor to each man, woman, and child who couldn't go. Everyone in America gave of themselves to win that war, whether it was rationing, scrap metal and paper drives, or housewives taking up tools and going to work. If there ever was a war worth fighting, worth dying for, worth sacrificing for, it was WWII. I heard on the news last night that many Memorial Day parades are being cancelled or simply never being organized because we're losing those WWII vets, Korea and Vietnam vets tend to either not want to march or are simply not as organized, and, according to the news report, veterans of Desert Storm and "Iraqi Freedom" are simply too busy and have other things to do.

I can't blame the soldiers and marines fighting over there for being in a place we shouldn't have been in the first place. But I get angry anew when I'm told I MUST "support the troops!" and any dissent against the war is not supporting them. I'm firmly in the "I support bringing them home" camp, and am saddened so many young men and women have had to die for Bush's folly, so many lives have been destroyed, and nothing good has come of it. We've destroyed a country, driven it to civil war, massively ruined its infrastructure, increased the dangers of simply living there, increased their child/infant mortality rate (one in eight Iraqi children are killed by violence or sickness before the age of five)... and left our own country pretty much helpless to defend ourselves not just against any terrorists, but against nature (there weren't enough National Guard members in Kansas to assist after the tornadoes).


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In many ways, I'm glad Dad isn't alive to see all this, and in more than one selfish way - because I honestly don't know what side of the fence he'd have been on, and I never could win an argument with my father.
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