BY ERIC SMITH
There is an old saying and that is those who make the wars are not the ones who fight the wars. To those of us who have not served in our military and fought battles on our nation's behalf, war is a very abstract thing. We instinctively marvel at the spectacle of ships being blown up, tanks being incinerated, planes being shot down, and buildings reduced to rubble by artillery fire. We love the sight of men in arms and seeing images of all types of powerful weapons being fired. The sound of the rat tat tat and the booms of ordnance going off gives us a rush. It is pure spectacle for those of us who see these things from the comfort & safety of our homes and movie theaters.
Yet for the actual participants of wars and their families the reality of war is far different for with every ship we being blown up, with every tank we see being incinerated, with every plane shot down, and with every building reduced to rubble by artillery fire, we see men and women (and in many cases children) no different from ourselves in their agonizing, terrifying,final moments on this Earth. When we witness these things what we are really seeing is human beings having their limbs blown off. We really them being burned alive, and we see them crying out in sheer terror, and agony.
When we see these things all we see is a spectacle but the family members of those engaged in these battles see something else; a wife sees herself becoming a widow, a little boy sees a father, who if his Dad is still alive, will no longer have a pair of hands with which to play catch, a little girl sees a mother who will no longer be around to dress her for her wedding, and a mother and father will glance at what we see as spectacle and see instead an empty chair at the family dinner table at the next Thanksgiving or Christmas.
All of them will see images of flag draped coffins, and endless rows of white crosses and headstones at cemeteries, under which will probably lay for eternity that family member or friend they once knew and loved. The reality of war is only abstract, it is only a spectacle, to those Blessed enough not to have to bear the burden of battle or have family members and friends who do.
A nation that dishonors our men and women in uniform is unworthy of the sacrifices they are called upon to make when wearing that uniform and one of the greatest dishonors we can give to these wonderful warriors is to rush to war and minimize the sacrifices of they who must fight that war. Invariably those political leaders who are most eager to send our men and women into battle are the very same ones who did all within their power to avoid answering the call to arms during the wars of their time.
They are the ultimate cowards for only a true coward cavalierly demands bravery of others when in their own time they lacked the courage to fight those battles that they would urge others to fight today. Let us not forget that those very same individuals who rushed this nation to war in Iraq without knowing all the facts are the very same ones who are now beating loudest those drums of war in favor of armed intervention in Syria.
This nation may indeed have to go in there but let us give our full support to those who are urging us to go slow and get our facts straight first, rather than to those for whom war is abstract and nothing more than a pyrotechnic chess board. For the battlefields of war are a chessboard true, but the pawns that move about are real people and once lost they can never be replaced for their lives represent a special uniqueness who's presence among the living enriches all of our lives with the diversity of their life experiences.
Their lives are lives too important to be needlessly sacrificed and while we honor them for their willingness to make such a sacrifice, let us honor them further by only calling upon them to make such a sacrifice when it is absolutely necessary.
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