Outstater: Veterans Day

January 26, 2012

Listening to our officeholders, insecure to the point of panic, make their recurrent promises to “fight” for us, I realize that my annual Veteran’s Day column is two months late.

The date always slips by me, the holiday being understated to the point of ephemera in my politically correct corner of suburbia.

That’s not entirely true. I always get a “Happy Veterans’ Day” from my wife and children, which brings a near tear and is all any veteran expects. It for sure is more than we expected from the God-awful experience of standing in line all those years waiting for bad things to happen to us, not the worse of which was the food.

Again this year I counted the times my elected officials mentioned our “sacrifice.” The number, interestingly, has increased steadily since the Recession began (by 20 percent in 2011). That indicates to me a growing jingoism, the distraction of choice for those who have made a mess of their country.

And please know that the word “sacrifice” is not chosen lightly. Combat records tell us that is exactly what is meant. For every life lost heroically in securing a military objective, many more are lost inconsequentially — that is, while some central command tries to figure out what the heck is going on.

Things seem better in the current  “Army of One,” especially beginning with the two Iraq Wars. An incredible effort was made there by a generation of Vietnam-era officers to minimize needless risk to U.S. servicemen — to the point that casualty rates today often read more like those of a busy stretch of California interstate.

This period, one fears, is but a fortunate moment. That generation has retired. Does anyone today even know what the military historically considers an acceptable casualty rate? Try 40 percent, and that is for a decided victory, reasonably well-planned and executed.*

News of such a battle will dry up recruitment and reenlisted rates PDQ (Pretty D*** Quick) as they say in the barracks. The various sub groups clamoring for full inclusion in the total military experience will fall oddly silent.

When that happens, lights will be burning late on Capitol Hill as speeches are prepared calling on the nation — meaning other people’s children — to bear the sacrifice and submit to conscription. Specifically, that will be callow young men, politically innocent but physically fit with traditional backgrounds, preferences and dispositions.

To those fellows and their families, I extend in advance my eternal respect and appreciation in this a belated Veteran’s Day observance. And my gratitude is not for your sacrifice, which will be considerable, but for your sense of honor and duty — displayed on the orders of a political class that will have demonstrated by then it lacks so much as a shred of it.

— Craig Ladwig
* Fully 40 percent of the 28,000 Marines and soldiers who fought the Battle of Peleliu died or were wounded.


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