Everybody respects the troops | VailDaily.com

Everybody respects the troops

Matt Zalaznick

I am in awe of our troops, especially those who have lost their lives in this country’s wars. I am in awe of our veterans, because of the horrors they’ve seen in combat.The hippies won their cultural revolution and did a lot of changing of society for the better. But the lasting disgrace of the anti-Vietman War movement was its shameful, brutal treatment of the troops who came home. We have learned since then not to conflate the war with the front-line warriors who, regardless of whether they’ve volunteered or not, are just doing their duty and who, for the most part, serve honorably and often, heroically. But I’m not sure that understanding has gone both ways, and that’s painful proof of how deep and toxic the scars of Vietnam remain. Veterans and other war supporters seem to feel that Americans cannot criticize a war without also criticizing the troops ordered to do the fighting.There’s a sentiment among some Americans that any time the military is sent into action, it is done so by politicians with the best intentions. There’s a rule that says criticizing the war while the troops are in harm’s way not only ruins morale, but is treason. There’s a belief that any time troops are ordered to fire their guns or missiles, they are protecting our freedom. But during Vietnam, and now as troops seems bogged down in Iraq, opposition to the faraway violence grows as Americans understand less and less how exactly our freedom is being protected. That’s why we think this war is wrong. To many veterans, saying the war is wrong is the same as saying the troops are bad people. Like anyone else, perhaps even more keenly than anyone else, troops and their families need to believe their sacrifices have a noble purpose. When the war is called a crime or a farce or a fiasco, that purpose is obscured, sullied, spat upon. I think a tremendous majority of Americans care about the troops in Iraq. Americans who think our invasion has failed are as worried about our servicemen and women as are those who support the war.We worry about the troops because we don’t understand why they are being wounded and killed. We didn’t feel threatened by Saddam Hussein regardless of whether he had weapons of mass destruction. We never believed he was in cahoots with al-Qaida.We have never understood how ousting a batty dictator who was only a threat to his own people serves as a victory in the war on terror. We have never understood how conquering Baghdad, Fallujah or Mousl protects us from the Muslim fanatics planning, in hideouts in all corners of the world, to kill Americans. Sadly, we’ve seen only an administration abusing the patriotism and bravery of our troops and their families. If someone is going to die for us, we want to be certain it is truly being done for the good of the country and to protect the American way of life that will all cherish.Assistant Editor for Local News Matt Zalaznick can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 14620, or mzalaznick@vaildaily.com. Check out his blog at http://www.vaildaily.com/section/BLOG Vail, Colorado

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