Those that fail to learn from history, are doomed to repeat it.
– Winston Churchill
I’m listening to a favorite local band of mine – Kilbrannan. They disbanded several years ago, going on to form two other bands, but that’s neither here ‘nor there. I know quite a few fans, though, that still miss their shows.
They were one of two local bands (Jackdaw, the other) that fed off my fascination with British Folk/Rock, such as Steeleye Span or Fairport Convention, and made me a fan of live Scottish/Irish music melded with Rock.
The driving force in the band was Kirk McWhorter, whose knowledge of traditional and contemporary Scottish tunes as well as his own songwriting skill, still impresses me.
So what has this got to do with Veterans Day, you might ask. If it isn’t already playing, play the song in the player at the top of this post. It’s a Kilbrannan song called A Simple Man. It’s the story of a young man who goes off to war, following “Bonnie Prince Charlie” in the Jacobite uprising of 1745. It was an unsuccessful attempt to claim the British Throne and, predictably, ended disastrously for those fighting in it, including the farmer’s Son of the song. Yet, it became, as these stories do, the stuff of songs and is remembered that way.
I can’t help but think of our servicemen overseas when I hear it.
Similarly, we tend to romanticize our war heroes, especially on Holidays like this. We call them “Heroes” whether they want the term or not; whether they carried a rifle or sat at a desk in a supply platoon. We give credit deservedly for their sacrifices, leaving family and friends behind, going to far away and inhospitable places, risking their own health and life.
That can’t be minimized and it is not my intention to do so.
I think we go too far at times in all the praise and adulation we heap on the Veterans for a day here and a day there, then forget about it the rest of the year. Maybe it’s out of guilt for putting them in danger in the first place. Maybe we feel a little squeamish about asking them to risk all in wars that are so hard to justify in the first place.
I think just as we show our appreciation for those who served in the military, we should show our appreciation for those citizens who took their duty as citizens seriously enough to stand up and speak their mind against wars. Against the Military-Industrial complex that pressures our Congress into supporting these wars until it nearly breaks our own economy.
Shouldn’t those solders serving in foreign combat know that we’ve got their backs and want to get them home safely as soon as possible? Shouldn’t the citizenry, who pays the taxes that make the military possible, be remembered as well? Shouldn’t we be fighting to protect our economy so that when our soldiers return, there will be jobs for them to go to?
We’re all part of this country and we all serve in our own roles. I know I’ll get heat for this. Someone will say “You didn’t serve. You don’t know what you’re talking about.”
Well, no I never was enlisted in any branch of the military. But if I had been, I would have gone and served just as any them there now do. I would have been scared shitless. I would have been homesick. I would have endured brutal conditions and then graduated from boot camp. I would have gone through what every other serviceman goes through, no better or worse, but I would have stuck with it and gotten through it. I’d have done my duty and I wouldn’t have expected to be called a hero for it.
And I do know what I’m talking about, it is those who exhibit knee-jerk patriotism that won’t listen. Our soldiers are taught to take orders without question because it saves split-seconds in combat. But someone needs to be thinking critically and looking at the big picture. As a citizen who is not on the warfront, I am given that opportunity and I take that duty seriously. Someone needs to be able to stand up and say the emperor has no clothes.
And yes, those veterans fought for the freedom of speech that lets me write this. To that I say, if you really want to fight for my freedom, then you’re in the wrong place. Washington DC has done more to remove my freedom and liberty in the past 10 years than any foreign land.
How can you sit there and talk about how heroic and brave our servicemen are without becoming enraged at the Fat Cats that put them and keep them in that position?
Want to help our servicemen? Bring them home safely.