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Posted by on May 28, 2012 in Society, War | 3 comments

The Truth Hurts

Chris Hayes poked the monkey this Memorial Day weekend when he suggested that the valor and heroism of US troops was being used to justify war.

Doug Mataconis objected to the timing but really never condemded the message.  Doug’s post generated a really great comments thread which is worth checking out.

I am a veteran and was not at all offended  by Hayes’ comments.  Here is my reality based comment:

I am a veteran – a Vietnam veteran and for most of that war there was a draft. But I don’t think that the draft is really relevant. When you are in combat you are fighting for one thing and one thing alone – to keep you and your buddies alive. Are you a hero when you throw yourself on a grenade? Of course you are, but you didn’t do it for country, freedom or Democracy – you did it to save the lives of your buddies. You will never form a stronger bond than you do with your fellow soldiers – that includes marriage.
Should we recognize those heroes? Of course we should but we shouldn’t forget what was on their minds as they were fighting – survival.

Radely Balko commented:

Hayes’ point is that the word “hero” connotes a noble mission. I guess I just don’t see how this is even debatable. It’s precisely the reason why we don’t call Nazi soldiers or Iraqi insurgents heroes. They too were willing to fight, kill, and die for a cause. But because we find their cause objectionable, we’d never consider calling them heroes.

IT may be the message is right but was the timing inappropriate? Emptywheel:

But move beyond the patina of insensitivity, and Chris Hayes was quite right. We need desperately to unhinge the valor of our troops from the moral squalor of our leaders. Memorial Day may be a touchy time to hear that, but it needs to be said.

It may be insensitive to say this on Memorial Day what a better time to get people’s attention. Balko talks about a “noble mission”.  When was the last time we had one of those?  Certainly not in my lifetime and I’m 66 years old .  Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan are certainly not wars I would consider “noble missions”.

What better time to question war but the day that we remember those who died at war.  I lost friends and relatives in Vietnam.  They died for nothing and the administration of Lyndon Johnson knew they were going to die for nothing in 1965 but the war went on and 10s of thousands died.  Is there a better day to discuss the “moral squalor of our leaders” – I think not,

Bravo Chris Hayes for going where few would dare to go.  I am a veteran – a Vietnam veteran. and I was not the least bit offended .