Archive for the 'National Defense' Category
Those private American citizens that willingly place themselves in harms way abroad, shall have no expectation that we’re coming for them. The harm done to our nation as we’re trying to negotiate the end of North Korea’s nuclear ambitions, for instance, is incalculable. While I am touched that two young ladies have recently been reunited with their families, I worry about what we gave up in the negotiations. Laura Ling and Euna Lee were convicted of crimes against the communist nation, or the DPRK in June of 2009 and sentenced to 12 years in a hard labor camp.
In a surprise to many in August of 2009, we heard news that former President Bill Clinton was on the ground in North Korea, securing the release of Ling and Lee. For the North, and Kim Jong IL, if all they received was a photo op; that was still too much to give up. Legitimizing rouge regimes, terrorist organizations, and human rights violators serve to prop them up. This further reduces the chances of peacefully securing freedoms for millions within their borders. Dictators have to fight everyday to tamp down the basic human desires and quest for freedoms from their citizens. One of their main weapons to accomplish this after their use of force is propaganda. Photo opportunities and unchallenged false rhetoric from human rights violators does nothing to support our fellow man.
For those who argue against a more direct intervention into the lives of the oppressed, I submit that their alternative answer should be an unyielding support of every man, woman, and child on this Earth whose basic human freedoms are suppressed. Our unwavering support for them now, just may gain their support in our concerns at a later date and time. This alternative is virtually free. Turning our backs on rouge regimes is not turning our backs on their citizens. Quite the contrary, the more unified our approach is in isolating these characters, the better the results for our fellow man.
Some folks have no useful solutions whatsoever, though. They say not only shall we not rattle sabers, but we should not be seen meddling into the affairs of their states. You can’t have it both ways, that’s just utopian foolishness. If we turn our backs on our fellow citizens of the world, then we become culpable for their sufferings. Photo ops, trade, and otherwise normal acceptance on the World’s stage are no way to end oppression in North Korea. Nations who let their dollars trump their ideals and continue to do business with dictators, tyrants, and terrorists fail everyone.
Now we see in the news that three American hikers have been arrested by the Iranians for purportedly crossing their border with Iraq. What will it cost us to get them back? Something tells me that if you choose Iraq for your hiking destination, you’re looking for something more than just a strenuous and picturesque walk.
The free nations of this World ought to abide by an unflinching and unwavering boycott of states who abuse human rights. Let us stand in the right while those who don’t value such basic freedoms for their citizens stand out like soar thumbs. It would be a fine divide to pit ourselves against them and call them out on such a worthy endeavor as human freedom for all mankind. So you see, nothing is ever as simple as a joyful reunion between two young ladies and their families. Euna Lee, Laura Ling, Bill Clinton, and the Obama administration all took part in questionable diplomacy last week. What now for our intrepid hikers in Iran?
Not too long ago I took in the Clint Eastwood film “Letters from Iwo Jima” at a local theater. Although it had only been out for a short while I was surprised to see the tiny theater in which it had been relegated. This film, about some of the most courageous souls on Earth, clawing their way through the Pacific towards Japan, had competed with a number of pop culture movies out at the same time. No problem though, whether large or small, this theater on that evening afforded me with a closeness to undoubtedly one of our nation’s most coveted gifts, a member of the greatest generation.
We have all heard the numbers regarding the passing of some of the greatest generation. Each day, over 1000 WWII veterans die. A number that used to total 16 million vets is now estimated at 2.5 million according to the Department of Veterans Affairs. Well, to a student of history and to one who reveres the selfless sacrifice of these great men and women as our most coveted gift of the 20th century, I am saddened by their passing. With each loss, we lose the opportunity to extract just what it was that made them so brave and so successful in America and thereby our hopes and aspirations of replicating them are severely dampened.
Their humility and unselfishness surely rank among their greatest qualities. These after all, seem to bind that generation together more than anything else. The movie was a stirring account of the adversity these men faced in the Pacific. This was but a microcosm of the peril our entire nation and way of life faced during the imperialism and totalitarianism of the 1940’s, however, they all rose to the occasion, without question.
I didn’t need a movie that night to appreciate the efforts of our brave men and women. On that evening, after our United States Marines raised the flag atop Mount Suribachi, and as the credits rolled down the small screen, I saw him. Across the aisle was an elderly gentleman staring intently at the screen. I instantly saw the message that was presented to me. While everyone else quickly piled out of the theater’s exits, this man was honoring the men and women of his own generation.
I stared at him with immense pride. What was he thinking about as the names of our heroes filled the screen in front of us? Had he fought in WWII? Was he searching for the names of his fallen brothers? How many names would he recognize on that screen? Or, perhaps his eyes were closed as he relived the precious moments he shared on Earth with the heroes of that time.
I was also embarrassed as my generation saw fit to scramble for the exits instead of reading the human scroll of sacrifice before us. To most of my generation, it may have just been another war movie. After all, it were these fallen heroes of WWII that enabled us to enjoy things as American as apple pie and going to movies in the first place. None the less, I could only take responsibility for myself, so I sat there beaming with pride and hoping that the gentleman would catch a glimpse of me with my reverence towards him. Thank you for your service, I thought to myself.
This man reminded me of my late Uncle as well. Sgt Thomas Mallon served in the Big Red One outfit in the European theater of WWII. He was shot twice, each time being afforded not only the opportunity to heal those wounds but to get right back into our fight for freedom. What’s odd is that with my quest for knowledge about all things war, and his late death, I know absolutely nothing else about his service in WWII. I had to read the history books and watch film to learn about the story of the Big Red One and their heroic efforts. This spoke to the embodiment of that generation’s humility and their humility is surely what lends to their greatness.
So on that night, I was reminded of just how powerful a generation’s call to duty can be. I am also cognizant of the fact that the greatest generation is quietly calling on my generation to lift the mantle of freedom above our shoulders and further its place in this world. On that night, one man represented millions and held his rightful place, in front of us all.
You are currently browsing the archives for the National Defense category.