NOT MY GRANDFATHER'S WAR |
October 17, 2006
This is not my grandfather's war.
One of my grandfathers was in a naval ship steaming towards Japan as part of the ground invasion force when WWII ended. He was saved from forcibly liberating the country by the decision to drop two atomic bombs. My other grandfather was a Navy Corpsman who was decorated for defending his Marine platoon during an ambush in the Korean War. He treated his wounded comrades while simultaneously defending their position against an ongoing attack, as most of the leathernecks in his unit were too badly injured to fire a weapon. They awoke in the morning surrounded by their own wounded and piles of enemy dead.
I wondered aloud the other day what my grandfathers would think about this war.
What would they think about the 50 pounds of body armor that we wear, when they wore not much more than a steel pot? About our only being allowed to move tactically in armored vehicles, when they had forced marches of large groups of soldiers? About fewer casualties in four years of fighting than in some single days of WWII fighting? About wearing a reflective belt at night on a Forward Operating Base? About Baskin-Robbins in the DFAC, daily phone calls home, email and internet access, when they didn't eat for days upon days and the best they could hope for was a three-month-old letter from home? About two-man air-conditioned rooms, air-conditioned offices, and air-conditioned Humvees, when they slept in the mud? About two-week leave back to the States in the middle of our one-year tour? About the four duffel bags of gear that I've been issued, when they often had boots with holes in them or no cold weather gear in the middle of the European winter?
I think that my grandfathers would understand the advancements that our military has made in the last 50-60 years.
I think they would even understand the constant complaining by soldiers who have living conditions infinitely better than they could have dreamed. After all, it is every soldier's right to complain about the hand they've been dealt, while at the same time sacrificing countless nights away from their spouse and kids, missing irreplaceable births of children and deaths of parents, sacrifices that even for a staff NCO like myself are greater than most at home can fathom. All for an idea that is America.
All for the same reason my grandfathers fought.
All for freedom.