Among the issues most commonly discussed are individuality, the rights of the individual, the limits of legitimate government, morality, history, economics, government policy, science, business, education, health care, energy, and man-made global warming evaluations. My posts are aimed at thinking, intelligent individuals, whose comments are very welcome.

"No matter how vast your knowledge or how modest, it is your own mind that has to acquire it." Ayn Rand

11 November 2008

Veteran's Day

I always work on Veteran's Day and I am always a bit grouchy on Veteran's Day. As an optimist, I do not particularly like myself on Veteran's Day. But it is a rough day.

My father served as a Navy aviator in the Pacific Theater of WWII and then had a 22-year career in the Navy. Growing up, we lived in many communities, so I always thought of myself as an American, not as a Virginian, a Texan, a Rhode Islander, or Jersey kid. Dad went on cruises to the Western Pacific, the Caribbean, and to the Mediterranean Sea. He was the skipper of VA-75, an attack squadron. Dad and his squadron flew 12-hour flights at treetop altitude to fly under radar deep into the USSR. These would have been one-way trips in war: they did not have enough fuel to return. Then he was a student at the Senior Naval War College and then an instructor at the Junior Naval War College. In 1963, he retired and took a job with American Airlines at their maintenance base in Tulsa, OK.

I was always proud of my Dad and of his dedication to American freedoms. He and I were both proud of his service in the Navy and I was happy to do my best to help him in his work by being the man of the house when he was away on a cruise. But my Dad's service was never adequately appreciated by most Americans.

While in graduate school, starting work on my Ph.D. degree in Physics, I received my orders to report for induction into the Army. They were delayed so I could finish the year in which I was enrolled and I reported for duty in June 1970. I would rather have continued my graduate work, but I was healthy and a proud American. I served a bit over 12 months in Vietnam.

I did not think the Vietnam War was enough in America's interest to justify a draft, but I did then and do now believe that the fight we entered into was in the best interests of the South Vietnamese, most of whom did not wish to live under a totalitarian Communist regime. This of course is predicated upon the condition that we stayed the course until the war was won, which pernicious Democrats and socialists refused to do. The way in which Congress abandoned the South Vietnamese is one of the most dishonorable of all American actions in our history.

In February of 1972, I returned to graduate school. There were some people who treated me as though I were a normal graduate student, some who treated me with a measure of extra respect, and there were some who assumed that I was a baby-killer and had perhaps made a practice of raping women. Women students were commonly the most unkind of all. The Physics Department faculty was generally great, even though some opposed the war. But overall, a returning Vietnam veteran was not well-received on campus.

The socialists are at it again in their opposition to the Iraq War. This time, they are trying not to treat the veterans of that war as badly as they did those of Vietnam. I believe they actually embarrassed themselves a bit with respect to their behavior after Vietnam toward veterans. Or maybe they just realized in time that it had not been particularly smart politically. Nonetheless, when your country largely repudiates the reasons for which you fought your war, you will feel unappreciated as a veteran. The socialists like to blame the war on Bush, despite Saddam's making a regular habit of shooting at American aircraft and despite Congress stating that there were 23 reasons for our continuing the war with Iraq. Yes, continuing the war which Saddam had never stopped fighting as he violated the Armistice he had signed over and over again.

I do not know of a war, outside of one or two fought with Indians, that any American veteran should not feel proud of his participation. Certainly the present Iraq War and the Afghanistan War are both efforts our veterans should be proud about. I wish to be among those who thank you for providing security to other Americans and for your efforts to act as honorable Americans under trying conditions. Thank you.

I will be less grouchy on Veterans Day when almost all Americans come to appreciate that freedom is the exception in man's history, while anarchy or tyranny are the commonplace. In order to avoid the horrors of the commonplace, we have to have a clear idea of what our individual rights are and be adamant in defending them. We need to understand our much ignored Constitution and choose to live by it. And we sometimes need to fight for our freedoms, as our veterans have done. The fight is a constant one in the realm of ideas and a not infrequent one in the realm of weapons. American heroes are badly needed in both realms. My hat is off to all of you who are veterans of these conflicts.

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