Published Brownsville Herald November 23, 2008
On Veterans Day I watched two really great movies on the Classic Movie Channel; The Stage Door Canteen of 1943 Hollywood Canteen of 1944. They showed the great things the celebrities did for our soldiers during World War II.
The “boys” were served, entertained and danced with the greats of the day in the “USO Canteens” in New York and Los Angeles. The support for our boys “over there” was far greater than today when Veterans Day is not even a real Holiday in many places.
With the undeclared wars in Korea and Vietnam regard lessened for the importance of our sons and daughters that volunteer to go to war to protect our “Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness”.
Today, I see very few USO Canteens, no movies in support of their work , more frequently hostility.
I served in the Vietnam Conflict and had the privilege of seeing the Bob Hope USO tour and several others.
This period really started the decline as I remember coming home to chants of being a “baby killer”. Fortunately things have improved but not nearly enough.
Our warriors need medical facilities close enough to get to them and they are certainly not adequate even here where there are so many in need.
The “For our veterans” Editorial in the Brownsville Herald on Veterans Day Tuesday November 12, 2008 expressed brighter hope that our soldiers would be relieved of the questionable military action in Iraq. It expressed the great sentiments: “We can best honor our veterans by maintaining policies that pursue peace, and help ensure that they and their children will be sent into harm’s way only to defend our country, and only after all efforts at peaceful resolution of conflict have been exhausted.
In recent times the more the public sees of the reality, once Pandora’s box is open and the war is out, revulsion at the horrors become part of the costs of war and immediate resolution is demanded.
The costs of surrender or the likelihood of a quickly negotiated settlement coming back to infect us again and again are not taken as serious considerations in order to recover some sense of saneness.
We can also see that the polarization of the country, without the domestic propaganda of the past, gains a life of its own and is aggravated by the personal goals of the media and politicians. That national divisiveness is in itself a weakening of our nation and its defenses and in part a success for our enemy.
It seems evident that the only real way for a war to end is when one side clearly loses the ability to prosecute the conflict or the war just continues to flare up later.
A much more acceptable choice is not to go to war, but if necessary, as a last resort we must learn from the successes of the past and the follies of the more recent past.
Let’s help all our military men and women become veterans, not casualties of war — especially a war that was built on lies and fought on questionable terms. Then they can live long, fruitful lives filled with parades and other signs of a nation’s gratitude”
To me the war was questionable because congress never declared it specifically; and the President did not request a declaration specifying what we were going to do and how we would know it was over.
“The War Powers Act of 1973” passed by Congress over the veto of then President Nixon guarantees no accountability for the decisions that can have such a horrendous impact on us folks.
The Act requires the President only to report to Congress any introduction of U.S. forces into hostilities or imminent hostilities and when submitted, requires that the use of forces must be terminated within 60 to 90 days unless Congress authorizes such use or extends the time period. It also mandates that the “President in every possible instance shall consult with Congress before introducing” U.S. Armed Forces into hostilities or imminent hostilities. After that so long as Congress keeps authorizing money the war keeps on. Congress can keep providing the funding “for the troops” and avoid any responsibility the decision.
Currently there is no requirement for a request by the President, defining the reasons for “us folks”, to justify a declaration of war. Congress is also not required to declare their sentiments with a vote, so they don’t have to take any responsibility either. In fact there most probably has not been a legitimate military action since World War II, were the issue to be considered by the Supreme Court.
This open door for bureaucrats to start wars is just unacceptable. I can see no great improvement for the future when the party that passed the War Powers Act is in power.
We really need to let the Congress and the President hear that we are tired of being taken from one horror to another without any accountability. Nothing less than, a Presidential request for a declaration of war and the requirement that every living member of Congress must vote only yes or no, can be acceptable.
We also need a law that would make any official who provides false or misleading information to Congress or the public to affect the decision be charged with war crimes.
Perhaps this would give our rulers a little more to consider!
We might have even some little confidence that when our “hearts” go off to war in the bodies of our children, that those responsible, made the decision more for the protection of “the folks” than just for themselves.