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I am not a patriot

May 27, 2013

“Never think that war, however necessary, nor how justified, is not a crime.”  Ernest Hemingway

Two guys brought trumpets to the Gillespie County Courthouse today at noon and I brought a list of war dead from this county.  I read the list of names to the three of us in the rain, and they played a stunning rendition of taps.

The families of this county gave up three men to World War I, sixty-one to World War II, five in the Korean War, four in Vietnam, and two in the Gulf Wars.  There were others who died during the War Between the States, but that list is harder to find.  Sixty one deaths from a county of (probably) 6,000 people was a huge loss.   Two families lost even more – two brothers died together during the invasion of Iwo Jima, and three  brothers died elsewhere.

The Korean War was an intervention in the development of a country which is yet unsettled.  North Korea’s leadership has taken their country into a private hell.  The Vietnam War was our intervention in the development of a country which was able to find its destiny only when we pulled out, but after the loss of millions of lives.    The Gulf Wars are not yet written into the history books, but I fear that when it is said and done we will have accomplished nothing good, and that the legacy is that hundreds of thousands of our young people have come home with the lifelong injury we now call post-traumatic stress disorder, massive budget deficits, and the creation of countless more fanatics whose ideal is to kill Americans.

In 1963, John F Kennedy said, “I look forward to a great future for America – a future in which our country will match its military strength with our moral restraint, its wealth with our wisdom, its power with our purpose.” 

Apparently we weren’t listening. Dale Carnegie said, “Each nation feels superior to other nation, and that breeds patriotism, and wars.”

So today I read the names of those who died in war, in the hope that someday we will give up war, assassination, and killing as an instrument of national policy.  No, I am not a patriot.  I believe in a strong national defense, but not a strong national offense.  I believe we can change the world for the better, but I fear those whose names I read may have died in vain. 

“But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.”  Jesus the Christ

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