Waving a Hero

I'd like to introduce a new term into the political lexicon: waving a hero.  For that is precisely what America's commander-in-chief, Barack Obama, did last week at the conclusion of his State of the Union speech.  As an old infantry sergeant, I was watching that young Ranger NCO from the time he entered the chamber, taking note of the fact that he was seated next to the first lady.  I told my wife right then, "He's there as a prop, they're going to use him."

Unfortunately for me, and the young sergeant first class, Cory Remberg, we all had to sit there through the entire boring speech for both of us to be validated.  He received his sorely earned tribute with an extended standing ovation by all present in the chamber.  However, being the cynic that life has made me, I knew that the duration of the ovation was largely based on the fact that both parties feared being the first to sit down.  I'm just an undergraduate cynic; those duly elected members in that chamber have advanced degrees in that finely honed sense of distrust, disbelief, and "do whatever it takes."

American Thinker had a recent post by a young Marine officer who tried to defray the charges of cynicism being leveled at the Obama administration for its callous exploitation of a grievously wounded combat veteran.  This Marine wisely noted that Pericles had eons ago explained why young warriors must sometimes be sacrificed for the good of a virtuous state.  But, and that is a huge but, the essence of Pericles's observation is that the nation being defended must be one of virtue and truth, and therefore worthy of defense and the resulting sacrifice of its brave warriors.

As someone who fought in ground combat in Vietnam, I agree with that.  At no time in my service there did I feel like I was fighting to protect hearth and home back in America from invasion by Asian hordes.  I accepted that I was a small cog in the vast machine that my country, my supposedly virtuous country, had employed to counter the machinations and threats of those other superpowers, China and Russia, on the chessboard of  their Southeast Asian strategy.

I would wager that if you surveyed surviving veterans of all the wars this country has fought since WWII, you would find that the two most prevalent emotions are first pride in service and then, most disturbingly, a disillusionment that they will carry to their graves that they were somehow used -- simple pawns moved about to protect the political queens and kings.  Yet we look at the larger battlefield and realize that no matter if our service and sacrifice were misused in certain campaigns, what we fought and died for was the particular mission assigned us by this greatest nation the world has ever seen.  That is the Pericles justification for sacrificing our young warriors.  We believed in America -- and I'm certain that that is still the driving force within those who now serve.

No pity wanted here, though; we're not looking for that.  We are that proud few who stood when called and served -- and as such, we do not look favorably upon a so-called commander-in-chief who uses one of our own's badly battle-battered body as a political prop to shore up his piss-poor performance as a leader of America's fighting forces.  I would hope that future commanders-in-chief would have the decency to refrain from making a prop of such a grievously injured warrior.

This nation has done an acceptable job of honoring and recompensing those who fought on its behalf: G.I. Bill benefits enabled millions of us to get college degrees and buy homes.  I availed myself of both.  The health benefits promised us are an entire book unto themselves, a tome filled with grievance.  The one thing our country seems to have done well is to establish beautiful national cemeteries where our remains can rest among our fellow veterans.

But please, no more waving of heroes for political drama.

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