A great and generous nation

As I watched the 25th National Memorial Day Concert, my mind went back over almost a century of wars, big and small; long and short. There are no more to share World War I: The War To End All Wars. Than, yet another war to end all wars where one nightmare ended and another began. A “hot war to a cold one.” We had a small respite, but were pulled into our first conflict that went to a draw, Korea, which still simmers and bubbles today.

In 1950 we also began supporting the French in Vietnam with support against what became the Vietcong/North Vietnamese. This led to MAGGV in 1954 under “Ike” with massive support financially and militarily. In 1964 began “my war.” It was seared forever into my brain being called “baby killer,” being spit on and having beer/pop bottles thrown at me as I walked any street in the day. The Vietnam intervention ended in April 1975 with the last helicopter out of Saigon and the first defeat of American forces in a multi-nation War. A war lost not in the rice paddies or mountains of a faraway land, but instead on the streets, campuses and universities of our country.

In the intervening years we had some small wins; Grenada (1983) where we ran out the communists and Panama (1989), where we deposed a despot. But there was also the beginning of the third worldwide conflict in 1983 with the bombings of the U.S. Embassy and airport in Lebanon. And yet again we withdrew after the loss of hundreds of lives because the politicians felt we had no valid interests in that area of the world.

But just 18 years later – Sept. 11, 2001, that theory blew up in our faces as the U.S. was assaulted not by a foreign nation, but by the fanatic fringe of a religion – Islam. And now, 13 years later, we are preparing to lose yet another war.

Iraq was and will be a tremendous disaster for the U.S. Afghanistan will be the burial pyre of yet another major power in the valleys and deserts of the Kingdom of Kush. As with the Mongols, Russians and Brits, we repeat history in a land most today cannot spell or find on a map.

Yes, with all our faults, disarray and shortcomings, in my heart and soul, I know we are a great and generous nation.

Lawrence Wilson