Boardman: Here’s what one vet wants for all our military on Veterans Day |

Boardman: Here’s what one vet wants for all our military on Veterans Day

George Boardman
John Hart/ | The Union

Observations from the center stripe: Post-election edition

WITH SO many people voting by mail, it’s hard to know what message Grass Valley voters were sending when they elected Terry Lamphier to the city council … MEASURE S promoter Patricia Smith may have lost the battle, but her side is likely to win the war if an initiative to legalize recreational pot makes it onto the state ballot in 2016 … NOW THAT Oregon has legalized recreational pot, look for an increased police presence along Interstate 5 as they pursue drug mules from you-know-where … IT’S RARE when California’s two Senate seats are in play so close together, but that may be the case in 2016 and 2018. Senator Barbara Boxer, who has said she doesn’t want to be a member of the Senate minority, may decide to retire in two years. At the age of 81, this figures to be Senator Dianne Feinstein’s last term in office… EVEN PRESIDENT Obama must realize by now that he isn’t resonating with the people. If he spends his last two years in office stonewalling Congress and trying to govern by executive order, he will trash what is left of his legacy … IF CONGRESSIONAL Republicans spend the next two years in an intramural wrestling match between the Wall Street GOP and the Tea Party faction over what agenda to pursue, voters will punish them in 2016… EVERY PUNDIT will put his spin on the national mid-term election results, but the reality is that neither party has a firm grip on power. This is the fourth time in less than a decade that voters have ousted a party from control of Congress or the White House …

Tomorrow is the day we set aside to honor those who have fought America’s wars. There will be parades where veterans will squeeze into their uniforms one more time, with their stooped and broken bodies standing tall before the people who owe them so much.

There will be 21-gun salutes for those who are no longer with us, flags will fly in abundance, and those who care will pause to thank the people who made the best of often impossible situations to fight for their country.

Nevada County is home to almost 10,000 vets, slightly more than 10 percent of the population. That’s a heavy concentration for California, where just 5 percent of the population served in the military, according to the U.S. Census.

It’s hard to know how many of the oldest of our vets, those from World War II, are living in the county, but their numbers are fading fast. The Veterans Administration estimates that slightly over one million WWII vets are still alive. With a median age of 92, that number is dwindling at a steady rate.

As an Army vet who served during the Vietnam War, I appreciate the sentiment behind the various ceremonies honoring our vets that will take place tomorrow, but that isn’t what I want. I want something far more important, something that will show we really value our military personnel: Leaders who have the guts and wisdom to fight only the wars worth fighting.

The United States has been involved in 27 military conflicts since the end of World War II, ranging from the forgettable (does anybody remember why we invaded Grenada?) to the disastrous (Vietnam).

We are now winding down wars in Iraq and Afghanistan that have cost us more than $1 trillion and 50,000 casualties. Can anybody explain to me what we have accomplished, other than lining the pockets of corrupt “allies” and further inflaming Muslim hatred of the United States? We’ve done everything but provide a backbone for the Iraqi soldiers who are supposed to keep their country free and independent, and we know how that’s working.

We have certainly been inventive when it comes to justifying wars. Contain Communism. Bestow the benefits of freedom on oppressed people. Topple murderous dictators. Protect the interests of the United States, wherever they may be. Promote economic freedom and prosperity.

Then, of course, there are the lies. The Gulf of Tonkin (Vietnam), Saddam’s weapons of mass destruction (Iraq), keeping Communism from our doorstep (Bay of Pigs). The list isn’t endless, but it is extensive.

I’m tired of people who think we need to be the world’s policeman, of American “exceptionalism” (whatever that means) that gives us the right to tell other people how to lead their lives, of neo-conservatives who want to rearrange the world order to suit their ends, of a president who wanted payback because some two-bit dictator tried to assassinate his father, of members of Congress who — sheep like — will believe anything the administration tells them when it comes to war.

I never fail to be surprised by conservatives who believe little the government says, but who snap to attention and say “Yes, sir” when they’re told we have to put military personnel in harm’s way. Then there are the liberals who protest military adventurism right up to the moment they vote to fund such operations.

Our military deserves better. By all accounts, we have the best-equipped, best-trained, and best-motivated fighting force in the world. You hear no stories of Americans raping and pillaging where they are victorious.

When you talk to members of foreign military forces, they tell you how impressed they are with the professionalism and bravery of America’s finest, and how the officers don’t disappear when the bullets start flying.

If I ever have a grandson who goes off to war as a member of America’s finest, I hope he can come marching home again with his head held high, knowing that he fought to preserve the freedoms we hold dear.

If he is unfortunate enough to fall in combat, I hope that his loved ones will be able to take comfort in the fact that our Commander in Chief asked him to fight a just war. I hope his mother — my daughter — doesn’t stand over his grave and think, “What a waste.”

That’s what I want for Veterans Day.

George Boardman lives at Lake of the Pines. His column is published Mondays in The Union.

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