Today is Veterans Day. When I think of our veterans, I think of men like my grandfather who fought in the Pacific theater of World War II, or my father who was a fighter pilot and flew missions over Vietnam. But it recently hit me that my cousin Tom, several years my junior, is now a veteran. My thanks and respect go out to these three, and to the millions of others who have put on the uniform of the United States. I love this cartoon, put together by Cox and Forkum for Veterans Day last year.

Veterans Day -- Thank You

They also pointed to an editorial written by Edwin A. Locke, titled Giving Real Meaning to Veterans Day. Here are some highlights of that editorial:

Because human life is so precious, war should never be undertaken unless our rights are threatened. It is often said that our soldiers must sacrifice themselves for our country. This is precisely what we must not ask them to do. A sacrifice entails the surrender of a greater value for a lesser one. But if a man loses his life on the premise, “I would rather die than live in slavery,” it is a tragic loss — but it is not a sacrifice. Such a man is acting in his own interests, to protect his most precious values.

We must be proud of our soldiers, but it is equally true that they should be proud of the cause they fight for. It is terrible to die in war, but there is one thing worse: to die in a war that has no meaning, a war that offers no reason for risking one’s life.

The best way we can honor our veterans and give real meaning to Veterans Day–aside from ceremonies honoring their past and present dedication and bravery–is to promise that we will go to war only when America’s interests as a free nation are threatened, and wage it in the uncompromising pursuit of victory.

I have often heard people claim to support the troops, but not the war in Iraq. My quick response to that statement is to ask exactly how they support the troops. Are they helping the troops by contributing to projects such as Soldiers’ Angels, Any Soldier or Project Valor-IT? These are very concrete ways of supporting the troops and letting them know how much we value them and their service.

But every time I have asked about truly showing support, these people have admitted that they haven’t done anything for the troops overseas, or they explain that they are doing their part by trying to bring the troops home as soon as possible. I follow this up with a simple question–if they had the power to snap their fingers and instantly transport the troops back to their homes, would they do so? So far, all the people I’ve asked have claimed they would do exactly that if they could.

And what would happen if the troops were to vanish from Iraq? While that nation has seen an amazing amount of progress, with the increasingly competent police force able to keep the peace and the successful ratification of the Iraqi Constitution, if our troops were to vanish tomorrow, the forces of evil still at play in that region would do their best to tear that progress down. I say evil, and I mean it. That is the best word to describe people who think strapping on a bomb and exploding themselves at a wedding is a good and noble idea. These are the people we are fighting in Iraq, and we are winning! If we were to pull out, the deaths of 2,000 brave American men and women would be in vain, and the freedom that 26 million Iraqis now enjoy would vanish.

Remember, two million Vietnamese and one million Cambodians were slaughtered because we left them and the Communists swiftly took over. Is cutting and running the best way to “wage [war] in the uncompromising pursuit of victory,” as Locke wrote?

Do the liberal Leftists in the U.S. really support the troops? Some do, and I can’t deny that. But as far as I can see, the majority of Leftists do not support the troops. They are doing everything they can to distract from the brave actions of the military by calling them babykillers and demanding that more photos be released from Abu Ghraib to fan the flames of their hate.

The Veterans Day celebration in the city of Berkeley, California was canceled because chairman Joe McDonald wanted to have Bill Mitchell as the keynote speaker at the rally. Mitchell, along with shameless media whore Cindy Sheehan, is a co-founder of Gold Star Families for Peace. From the Knight-Ridder news article:

“If you want to have an anti-war rally, count me in,” said Linda Perry, an aide to City Councilman Laurie Capitelli. “But not on Veterans Day. It’s neither the time nor the place.”

Edwin Harper, adjutant of the local Disabled American Veterans chapter, which has participated in past Berkeley Veterans Day observances, threatened that his group would pull out.

“They have the other 364 days and 23 hours to make their political point,” he said. “This one hour should be reserved for honoring veterans, period.”

McDonald, backed by other members of the committee, disagreed, saying that not permitting Mitchell to express his point of view would be tantamount to censoring free speech.

Please. Yes, Mitchell is free to express his anti-war views, but Linda Perry had it right–a Veterans Day celebration is neither the time nor the place to air your political grievances. And speaking of neither the time nor the place, “social justice” group CODEPINK is planning to focus, as it always does, on the dead this Veterans Day. Coffins and crosses will represent those who have died in Iraq. I can predict with certainty that there will be many with signs or t-shirts calling for the troops to come home.

Rather than focusing on those who have fallen, this is a day we ought to thank our neighbors and friends for their service to our nation. And to all of you, thank you.

We are in your debt.

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