As I opened the op-ed page of my local newspaper on Memorial Day, I noticed a somber editorial cartoon depicting a mother holding onto her child with one hand while holding the folded flag of her fallen hero husband in the other. Mother and child are standing in front of a grave marker in the shape of a cross, and the caption reads, “A prayer for the day when we don’t have new names to mourn.”
At first glance, it seems like a sentiment with which no one could possibly disagree. It’s like saying “I love puppies.” Who could argue with the idea that we should all desire a world where peace prevails and no one ever has to fight and die in another war?
Then I noticed another Memorial Day cartoon. This one depicted an “Iraq-Afghanistan Memorial.” Inscribed on the front of the monument were these words: “We honor and remember the brave men and women who chose to serve their country, even though many had other opportunities. This was not, as some erroneously believed, a war for oil. To those who fought to overthrow a maniacal dictator, and most importantly, to stop terrorists where they dwell, we thank you.” The cartoon caption read, “Maybe one day…”
To me, the line of logic from the first cartoon to the second was glaring.
How often do we hear someone express the generic attitude that war is bad, the specific opinion that this war is terrible and the irrational statement that we should just “bring our boys home”? It has become the pacifist mantra of the Left, and it is at least as old as the peace movement of the sixties, when we were told that the Vietnam conflict was an imperialist war driven by the military-industrial complex — or whatever.
These bumper sticker philosophers seem obsessed with the idea that if we all just clasp hands and sing “Kumbaya,” there will be peace. It is the same old hippie mindset that proclaimed that we should “make love, not war.”
Unfortunately, that’s not how the world works, and today’s terrorists cannot be appeased any more than Adolf Hitler could. Brave men of my father’s generation came out of the Great Depression with nothing but the clothes on their backs and a quiet understanding that their country needed defending.
Nearly half a million of those Americans died savage, bloody deaths defending freedom. They jumped out of airplanes and were shot before they hit the ground. They were blown out of the sky over places like Berlin, Paris and Guadalcanal. They endured starvation, lice and disease in German stalags. They were tortured and beheaded in Japanese hellholes in the Pacific. They were gunned down on the beaches of Normandy, Sicily, Guam, Saipan and Iwo Jima. They were bayoneted in the deserts of North Africa and sank to their eternal rest on the high seas when torpedoes and kamikaze aircraft hit their ships.
Their average age was 19, yet they saved our nation and our way of life.
Throughout our history, young Americans have been asked again and again to die horrible deaths most of us could not imagine in our worst nightmares. And yet they have continued to volunteer for dangerous duty in places like Seoul and Da Nang and Fallujah.
We honor them each Memorial Day, not because they laid down their weapons and said, “Let’s talk,” but because they looked the evil despots of the world in the eye and said, “Enough!”
Peace is not some ideal achieved by everyone singing John Lennon’s “Imagine” while getting high and wishing it were so. Peace is achieved when the good guys conquer the bad guys.
Oh, and for those on the Left who seem to have forgotten: we’re the good guys.