Hero? You Choose.

You might find this irreverent. That’s okay. But hardly a day goes by that I don’t appreciate the decision to ditch TV. Today the royal funeral for George H.W. Bush must be ever-present, along with adoring commentary rivaling the most extreme religious fanaticism. We rejected royalty in 1776.

I’m sure if I met George Bush in the checkout line at Fareway we’d have a pleasant conversation and I’d go on to brag about this brush with greatness. But Mr. Bush’s relationship with the people of Iraq was different. A border dispute with Kuwait meant that Bush’s most powerful nation on earth would rain hell on those people. They posed no threat to us, just to an oil cartel. A heroic act, it was not. A gentleman at Fareway does not make him a gentleman to the world.

In contrast, here is a heroic act:

Major Hugh Thompson, Jr. was a helicopter pilot in Vietnam. He and his two man crew were on a mission to clear remaining Viet Cong from the hamlet of My Lai. As they flew over the area something didn’t seem right. There were bodies strewn about. There was a wounded young woman and they marked her with green smoke to identify her as needing medical care. They watched from the chopper as Captain Ernest Medina of C Company walked over and finished her off.

The chopper continued to fly over the scene and they noticed a group of civilians running toward an earthen bunker. They were being chased by C Company personnel. Thompson and his crew landed the chopper between the soldiers and the people and he told the Americans that if they fired on the civilians or himself, his crew would return fire. He motioned the people out of the bunker and arranged for them to be evacuated by other choppers. C Company held their fire.

A combination of leadership failure, faulty intelligence, miscommunication, inexperience, and grief over fallen comrades had led to the deaths of three to five hundred, mostly women, elderly, and children. Of the dead, 210 of them were 12 years old and younger, and 50 of them were three years old and younger.

People who save lives are more deserving of hero status than those who destroy lives. But in this, like any tragedy, there are lessons to learn. It is not disrespect of the military to wish they were not put in harm’s way or sent to do harm needlessly, it is reverence and respect for sovereign individuals.

Perpetual war was not in the original idea of this country. And contrary to the propaganda of the war profiteers, it is not a necessary evil. “Our freedoms” have not been threatened by an invading force since Pearl Harbor. Our freedoms are more likely threatened by the domestic forces entrusted with protecting them.

The reason war has not been declared by Congress since WWII is that there has been no legitimate threat. If a war was necessary to protect us, it should be declared and fought to win. It was the “pulled punches” aspect of the Vietnam War that produced the abuse our soldiers there endured (and still do). It was a pulled punches war because the safety of our citizens was not on the line.

Religious squabbles and civil wars on the other side of the world should be left to those directly affected by the complaints of their adversaries. Our borders are there for a reason. It is because, no matter how wealthy capitalism might make a country, the money will run out if the people served are not the people who pay.

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