|Very often, the essence of an important issue
or event is lost amidst debates, protests, counter protest,
seemingly endless cacophony of opinions and numerous
Listening to the media coverage of the war with Iraq, on
television, radio, and reading about it in the newspapers and
the Internet, one can only wonder, do the pundits, protesters,
politicians, media managers and many people in this country
truly know what are at stake in this conflict?
Indeed, it's all about national security, global stability, and
the freedom of an oppressed people. Nevertheless, what are most
critically at risk are the lives of our brave servicemen and
women fighting in the war, and the well-being of their families.
In a world inhabited by people, incapable of peace, love and
justice, war is inevitable. It does not matter how often that
is, as long as the fundamental human aspiration is not love,
peace and justice, there will always be conflicts and wars.
When that happens, such as is, someone has to pay a severe
price, even make the ultimate sacrifice to protect others. This
sad reality brings us to the question posed by this article.
How grateful are we to the people who are risking their lives to
protect this great nation? How grateful is the nation to the
soldiers who are now fighting, getting injured, maimed and even
killed in battle for the freedom of Iraq, Afghanistan and the
safety of this country and the world, and to those who have gone
before them and done likewise.
Is it enough to just say “thanks”, “we are proud of you”, or to
invoke a similar clich�. Is it adequate to sport a T-shirt or
bumper stickers with slogans of support, or attend rallies?
Would sound bites from politicians, celebrities and
entertainers, promises of free college tuition and guarantee for
house loan, a medal of honor and a spot in a prestigious
cemetery in Arlington Virginia, suffice?
Certainly, these are measures of gratitude, but they are not
enough. Everyone knows that these brave soldiers are not in it
for the money; but for the noble reason of defending their
country, and the freedom of people they do not even know.
Nevertheless, our gratitude to them for their honorable
sacrifice should mean more than just mere words and a token of
gratitude here and there.
In a country where everyone has thrived in the freedom and
stability ensured by our servicemen and women, it is only proper
that the gratitude of the nation translates into a substantially
better life for every combat soldier, many of whom return to a
life of hardship and poverty, perhaps directly or indirectly
caused by the noble and honorable sacrifice they made to protect
Many of them have families who are struggling financially. Many
have gone to fight in the war, leaving jobs that may not be
there when they return. Many families are without health
insurance because the breadwinner has been called to active
I am outraged and shamed by the fact that many of these soldiers
have to rely on donated groceries to supplement their ability to
provide for their families, because they are not paid enough to
live otherwise. For this to be happening in the richest and most
powerful nation on earth, and to those who have sworn to defend
it, is indeed shameful and scandalous.
No doubt, care for our servicemen and women have improved, since
the Vietnam War. However, more needs to be done.
The sacrifices made by our servicemen and women are infinitely
beyond money. You cannot put a price on a maimed or lost life.
How do you repay someone who lost his life defending others, a
child whose father or mother was taken in combat, a mother whose
son or daughter was taken, a wife or husband whose spouse was
taken, a family or community, for such a dreadful loss?
No amount of money is sufficient for the fear, anxiety and loss
endured by that father, mother, husband, wife, son, daughter,
relative or friend whose loved ones have gone to war and who
have to constantly deal with the fear and anxiety of not knowing
whether they will return.
Nevertheless, a tangible token of gratitude that would make
better; the lives of these noble men and women, is not only
just; it is a moral imperative. I say pay a little more tribute
and a little less lip service to our servicemen and women, they
deserve it and a whole lot more.
Write or call your Congressman to demand that more of our tax
dollars be used to improve pay for servicemen and women, join or
start a Foundation to support the servicemen and women and their
families in any of the many ways possible.