memorial day 2005

I have seen war. I have seen war on land and sea. I have seen blood
running from the wounded. I have seen men coughing out their gassed
lungs. I have seen the dead in the mud. I have seen cities destroyed. I have seen two hundred limping exhausted men come out of line-the
survivors of a regiment of one thousand that went forward forty-eight
hours before. I have seen children starving. I have seen the agony of
mothers and wives. I hate war.

I have passed unnumbered hours, I shall pass unnumbered hours, thinking and planning how war may be kept from this Nation.

I wish I could keep war from all Nations; but that is beyond my power. I can at least make certain that no act of the United States helps to
produce or to promote war. I can at least make clear that the conscience of America revolts against war and that any Nation which provokes war forfeits the sympathy of the people of the United States.

-Franklin Delano Roosevelt

My maternal grandfather served in the U.S. Navy. My paternal grandfather served in the U.S. Army and fought in World War II. My father and uncle both served in Vietnam at the height of hostilities, and both were wounded, my uncle severely. Unlike the wealthy men who currently send our troops into harm’s way, but who chose the safest route when their turn came to serve, my family knows the pain and ugliness of war.

From 1979 to 1989, my father worked as an advisor to NATO, keeping the peace in the last years of the cold war. Jingoism and masculine posturing leave me cold. Tanks and guns are the tools of those too dense or too arrogant to find a way to resolve conflict without violence. The most dangerous bullies in the world wear suits, not uniforms. Soldiers and sailors don’t make foreign policy: they follow orders. Today I remember not only those who have died, but also the men and women who have passed and who continue to pass unnumbered hours thinking and planning how war may be avoided so that fewer young men and women need to die.

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