“All we are saying is give peace a chance,” a classic line from a John Lennon song.  The problem with peace is that it just does not work unless you have the strength to defend your peace and the self control to not use that strength to abuse other’s peace.  I believe that man will always want more and if he can get it through non-violent, non-destructive means he will in most cases be satisfied.  Cut off his pleasure and his toys and he will be come agitated.  Cut off his needs or more correctly his perceived needs and he will resort to violence on other men to get what he feels he must have.  You take away my cable TV and I am going to be mad.  You take away my food and water and I will kill to get it back.  I will kill even quicker if I think you are trying to hurt my family. And did you know that my feelings are not limited to white, northern European descended, Christian Americans?  Mess with anyone and the basic fight or flight instinct will kick in.  I assume there will always be people out there in the world who will never like me and my kind and I assume that some of those people will always view aggression toward the US as an ongoing and unending process. 

Other than the 911 attack the US has not suffered a massive man made, deliberate destruction of American life since the Civil War.  We live very well and very safe in this country because of our strength and desire for peace.  During my 52 years of close contact with the military I have met many a young troop who could not wait to get into combat.  Very seldom have I ever had a conversation with a combat veteran who just could not wait to get back to the fight, a veteran who truly enjoyed the danger of close contact with death.  Oh, I am sure there are a few strange ones in our society who have some deep seated reason for enjoying the destruction of war but they are not normal.  Normal veterans are those men and women who put on the uniform to defend this country in its time of need but cannot wait to get home and be a civilian again as soon as possible. 

Recently in the media I have heard the question being asked of different age groups, what they feel they owe their country.  Sadly many do not feel they owe anything.  Now these are the same people who will dial 911 and expect the entire safely net of our emergency responders to be on-call 24 hours a day and at their door in less that three minutes after a cry for help.  Why do these people believe they are entitled to so much expensive support from police, fire and EMT responders?  Take it another step, why do these people feel they have a right to the defense of their Nations, hometown and personal home by volunteers who put on the uniform of the US military, volunteer soldiers who do give back to their country.

Literally as I was writing this column my mother phoned to tell me my uncle had died.  He was a WW II combat veteran who fought in France and Germany.  He served with very little fanfare, came home and got on with his civilian life.  Most people do not even know he was in the Army.  I know it though and on Veteran’s Day he was one of the WW II veterans on an ever shrinking list that I always called.  There are people who hate us and will always hate us.  There will never be a time when the United States does not need some type of military force to defend and protect our way of life.  And sadly there will always be those in our society who just cannot see the need to support and give back to this great nation. I will be headed to Iowa from Colorado for a funeral, an American, combat veteran’s funeral.  He was lucky he got to come home from his war.  We, as a country, were lucky he was willing to “give” back to his nation. It is Veteran’s Day, please thank a veteran for his or her service, for their sacrifice and be thankful there are still Americans who are willing to stand up and be counted to defend our peaceful way of life. 

30 Oct 2007
Major Van Harl USAF Ret.