187 – “A Retrospective”

By Hetty Gray

# 187

June 1, 2014

“A Retrospective”

Seldom do I allow Memorial Day to slip by without filing a column, but this year I decided to submit it to my readers a week later. To put in bluntly, all of us should remember our Veterans each day and not merely the day set aside as a day of national honor.

We would have no holidays were it not for those who step forward, volunteer, and put their very lives on the line so we can enjoy peaceful existence here at home.

As we traveled the Memorial Day weekend, I made it a point to stop to thank any veteran wearing any version of that all too familiar ball cap bearing military service markings. Over a restaurant breakfast, I greeted Air Force, Army, and Navy veterans. To a man, they were well into their 80th decade. No doubt, they view the current world scene far more seriously than most of our young people.

For at least two generations, Americans have not endured the homeland hardships true of World War II. During those years, our government rationed commodities. Folks put aside thoughts of leisure or vacation in an effort to make sure the troops were well supplied. Children picked up tin cans and flattened them. Metals collected as scrap were quickly picked up for war manufacturing. Nobody complained about not having some particular food item either. There was a greater concern. We were at war and everyone needed to do his or her part.

Leaping forward in time to today, I shudder at what is a dangerous complacency. Sacrifice for a lot of young people is not getting fries with sandwich special. Service is what someone else does. More disturbing is the high level of ignorance about world affairs. After all, the younger ones quip, what difference does it make?

Well, difference may well be life or death. Encroaching upon the solid morals and values on which America was founded is an ever-growing number of splinter groups that have no problem crushing established mores in favor of what they want.

We see it in the push for gay and lesbian rights, abortion on demand (often without parental notification), and a total disregard for America’s energy sector.

If the folks a the EPA get heir way, then you will pay more than attention. You will pay through the nose! Taking coal-fired power plants yields a nasty result. Remember the quip, “utility bills will skyrocket.” Hmmmm. Maybe you forgot.

When your electric bill quadruples, you will question why only America cripples its industries. China puts another coal-fired plant on line each week. Remember, too, that many Chinese wear surgical masks to get their breath due to the pollution. Chinese plants are not “clean burning coal plants.” Prevailing winds are west to east, so guess what part of the world will be greeted with their pollution? Yep. Us.

Every people yearns to be free, and for centuries America has been the defender of freedom, the exporter of free enterprise and the goal of immigrants from the far corners of the world. The last true instance of this was World War II.

We fight for freedom, yet so many live under the heavy yoke of harsh leaders. War without victory is war lost. To put it simply and in terms of sports, one team doesn’t telegraph its strategy to the opponent.

Yet, once again, the current administration assigns a date by which troops will leave a conflict area. How convenient for the opposition. All they need to do is wait. All those bodies mangled and broken, all those lives lost, all those families damaged forever.

Once the bastion of everything good and decent, we have morphed into a pitiful shadow a once proud and strong international mover and shaker. Every man or woman who donned a uniform knows that a chain of command is only as good as the person at the top.

After all, any military is only as good as its components: sound objectives, experienced leaders, and outcomes equal to the sacrifice and treasure put forth to achieve them. In short, victory has no substitute.

We have reason to thank veterans. Yet, sadly, our military personnel work for an administration that does not lead. In a garden of people, it has hired the weeds. Instead of leadership, we have “weedership.”

Those who serve need our support more than ever. They are hobbled in their mission to spread freedom worldwide. Once, this nation pledged never to negotiate with terrorists. Never is a term not to be used lightly.

This past week, despite the fact that we achieved the release of the last held POW in Afghanistan, we did so by negotiating with the Taliban. Coupled with announcing our departure date, we guarantee that this heinous group will take control of the nation once again — depriving women and girls of freedom and any education and relegating their populace to societal mores that date to before the Middle Ages.

So much for all those soldiers who came home mentally and physically maimed…. And so much for those who died….

We went into Afghanistan determined to exact a high price for the carnage of 9/11 and, through spirited leadership, spread freedom. After all, Afghanistan was the hotbed of terrorism at that time. Now, we will leave having spread something, but not freedom. We will have spread the word far afield to peoples yearning for help to live free lives that America — once again — mocks the sacrifice of her soldiers, young and old, and leaves without achieving a complete victory.

It must be disheartening for military personnel with long careers to see this happen. We must all work toward a big change in 2016. It’s not only the domestic scene that begs for a change. Not only is the foreign policy realm is at risk, but we are also at risk here at home. Think about it.

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