Memorial Day 2012

Posted by on May 28, 2012 | 0 comments

My friend Rick McCarty served in the U.S. Air Force and wrote this great piece for Memorial Day 2012:

“As many of you know I am an ex Air Force pilot. I served by flying fighters in the post Viet Nam era and did not see combat duty, but was certainly ready and eager if I had been called to do so. I was only in the Air Force for about 8 years after college so I have been a “Mister” much longer than I was an Air Force officer.

It is amazing how age gives you a sense of perspective and mellows the hormones that were flowing strong when we were younger. I was and am proud of the service I gave my country. Even though I was never in combat, at that point in my life I would have been eager to go if I had been called. I would have gladly done what was asked of me in carrying out the duties I was assigned.

As we reflect on this Memorial Day season I would like to offer some food for thought about the use of our military in today’s world. These are totally my thoughts and I am sure some of you will not agree, but here goes.

War is a very ugly concept. It is “RAW” spelled backwards. One definition of “raw” is when something is unnaturally or painfully exposed. This is what happens to our young men and women, both physically and emotionally, as a consequence of the horrible things they, at times, suffer through and witness. Many times the emotional impact is far greater than the physical damage.

Don’t get me wrong, there are definitely some things worth fighting for! What bothers me is the cavalier way our leaders have committed our young men and women to combat, across the world during the last 50 years or so. For all of us that have lived through the conflicts we have endured, from Viet Nam until the present, all of us have at times asked ourselves WHY??

I was taught that when you do enter a conflict, enter aggressively, accomplish the mission and go home. Our politicians use our kids as pawns and expose them to unbelievable risks with little regard for their well being or the long term cost to our society. I encourage you to go and spend a few days walking the halls of your local VA hospital and you will quickly see what real sacrifice is and the price that has been paid. I just wish I could confidently say it was a justifiable price they paid for our freedom, but I can’t.

What price will our young men and women pay that have spent 3 or 4 combat rotations during the last 10 years? What price will our society pay and what price has it paid already. How many families have been destroyed? Do we really need to be the world’s police force?

On this Memorial Day, no matter what your political affiliation, I would ask you to pray not only for all the men and women that have and are serving, but pray for our leaders that they might exercise strong and decisive wisdom during times of worldwide conflict. I know that is asking a lot, especially considering the political climate in Washington. Our track record over the last 50 years or so has not been too sterling though.

One last thing… When you see the veteran standing on the side of the street asking for a little money, just remember that even though you do not see his physical wounds, odds are, he has deep emotional scars as a result of giving all that was asked of him. It probably occurred when he was only 18 or 19 years old. As the song says, “It ain’t pretty but it’s beautiful”. At the very least, show him a friendly smile or shake his hand. If you really feel brave, give him a good old Texas hug and tell him thanks.

There is a passage from this wonderful book I have read several times. It says, “Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends.” It is a great book written by some very wise men. If you haven’t checked it out recently, it might be a good thing to do.

Have a happy Memorial Day.”

Well said, Rick.

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