Let’s Defend our Defenders of Freedom

                      Standing in the free speech area during the Saturday “Defenders of Freedom” parade in Oceanside was a deeply
                      moving experience. I’ve never really felt both so very unreservedly happy and so poignantly sad at the same time.

                      As the Marines and sailors marched and drove past, or flew overhead, I thought of what amazing accomplishments
                      they had achieved in Iraq through their disciplined valor.  Victory is sweet.  Homecoming for the warriors is a time
                      of celebration.  I was exuberantly happy. 

                      Yet there I was standing in the free speech area of this parade.  Around me members of groups such as Veterans
                      for Peace held signs and banners calling for the troops remaining in Iraq to be brought home now.  Others said things
                      like “Bush lied—people died.”  My own concerns center on active duty military and veterans’ issues such as rapidly
                      replacing mold infested housing on Camp Pendleton, ensuring pay equity for disabled retired veterans, and fully
                      funding the VA hospital system.

                      After all, when the parade is over and the last of the confetti is swept away, our military personnel and veterans will
                      still need our care and our support.  And they are not getting it—funding for VA patients for example has decreased
                      by about $635.00 per patient in recent years.  The current Administration and its allies in Congress are clearly much
                      more interested in cutting taxes for the wealthiest one percent of Americans and for job-destroying multi-national
                      corporations, than they are in actually honoring our commitment to the welfare and tong-term care of our valiant
                      defenders of freedom.  I used to conduct field investigations for the IRS back in the mid 1980’s--I know how to
                      read the budgetary numbers—they don’t lie.  The story they tell is an appalling one.

                      The fiscal betrayal of these brave young men and women by this current Administration, and the signs of the anti-war
                      contingent, forced me to confront in my mind the unpleasant fact that the Bush Administration overrode the collective
                      will of our NATO allies—shattering the world’s longest and most successful alliance, of the world community and the
                      United Nations, gravely weakening all the world’s collective security mechanisms because … well, just why did they do it?

                      We were told in no uncertain terms that Saddam Hussein possessed chemical, biological, and nuclear WMD programs,
                      and that any moment he might strike us.  We were also told by the Administration and its Congressional allies that Hussein
                      maintained a close, cooperative relationship with Al Qeda.  Most Americans were led to believe in fact that Hussein was
                      directly involved in the September 11 attacks on our nation.  Many still believe some or all of these propositions.

                      There is only one problem:  ALL of these assertions are false.  The administration took us into the Iraq war, shattered
                      the world’s institutions of collective security, and squandered all the goodwill that this nation had ever accumulated,
                      solely on the basis of lies.

                      Watching the parade pass, I saw in my mind’s eye a tapestry of military parades across the ages from the victorious
                       legions of invincible Rome, the two-day long victory march of the triumphant Federal armies through Washington City
                       in 1865 at the end of the Civil War; the jubilation that followed the victorious endings of the World Wars, and the
                       parades that followed the end of the first Gulf War—and now this parade was unfolding before me.  

                      These brave troops marching before me were safely back, but they will be deploying again very soon.  Our warriors
                      whose fiscal welfare is of such little concern to their Commander-in-Chief, had bravely fought and many of their comrades
                      had died for blatant lies, and they will be doing so again very soon.  Relieved that they are here now, I nevertheless felt
                      a deep sadness that they will be returning to a war zone and may not have adequate housing or medical care upon their return.

                      Bittersweet melancholy, juxtaposed with great happiness, was the order of the day for me.
                      Mike Byron


                      Mike Byron is a member the San Diego Chapter of Veterans for Peace.
                      He is also President of the democratic Club of Carlsbad-Oceanside.
                      He teaches Political Science at several local colleges and universities.
                      He can be contacted at:  mpbyron1@cox.net

  back to  bartcop.com

Privacy Policy
. .