Monday was Veteran's Day, which originally was Armistice Day, celebrating the end of the "War to End All Wars" -- WWI (known at the time as "The Great War").
Obviously, the horror of that war did nothing to dissuade others from exercising "national policy by other means" and sending tens of millions more young men around the world to their deaths in the ever-increasing spiral of conflict.
But whether a veteran served in combat, or served during a time when he (or she) was merely prepared to go to war at a moment's notice, every veteran has more than deserved the honors we bestow on them.
Some of the older veterans were drafted. All of the younger ones volunteered. How they entered the service matters less than how they served -- and with rare exception they did our nation and our flag proud.
We've been fighting a lot of little wars lately. In the 12 years since the terrorist attacks we've pretty much been continuously at war. Between Iraq and Afghanistan, we've had 5,275 men and women killed in combat, another 1,420 die by other means overseas, and over 51,000 physically wounded. The psychological wounds have been every bit as great, because, as Sherman said, "war is hell." The psychological scars can't be seen, but they nevertheless run just as deep as the physical ones.
Suicides, the break up of families, all are part of the cost of sending our nation's very best into the arms of Minerva, the goddess of war.
It's why no politician should ever be cavalier about the idea of sending the members of our armed services into harm's way. It should always be a hard and difficult decision -- when there is no other choice.
We are finally, at long last, seeing the end of the longest war in our nation's history, in Afghanistan. By this time next year, almost all of our forces should be out of that accursed land. Our armed forces, who've been fighting continuously for more than a decade, need time to rest and refit. The families of our servicemen need time to enjoy each other without the fear of another deployment, another threat to the safety of a loved one.
Monday, we set aside a special day to honor all those who have served and who serve today. But our commitment to those in uniform and their families must extend to every other day of the year. We cannot forget them simply because the time will soon be at hand when they no longer are actively at war. We cannot let our patriotism and our concern for these men and women who have served so valiantly disappear when the sounds of battle begin to still.
We're already seeing the insidious effects of "victory disease." Congress is cutting money for equipment and training. Manpower is being slashed (dumping those who have served honorably into a job market where there just aren't any jobs). Programs for families are being scaled back. VA funding is stalled.
The vast majority of Americans who have had no direct contact with anyone who served in these wars are quickly ready to forget the sacrifices made by the troops.
If the fighting in Afghanistan and Iraq is finally ending, the battles in Congress are just beginning.
The military is now being expected to not only have spent a decade fighting our wars, but now to lead the nation in solving our economic problems as well by taking, far and away, the largest chunk of the cost cutting Congress demands. No other sector of government is being asked to come close to the one trillion dollars in cuts over the next ten years that the military is being asked to make.
This does not honor those who served, nor does it make our nation strong. By the next Veteran's Day, we hope that the speeches this week honoring the men and women who have carried the flag of this nation will be more than merely lip service.
-- Kelly Everitt