Next year, when we fly and wave our flag, honoring our veterans, less will be left of those who defended us in the past. But, sadly, there will be new heroes to remember. More will have died for us.

We wish they would not have to sacrifice their lives. A wish that gives pause. Pause to contemplate whether they will have died for a good cause.

There were times, like in World War II, when we had to defend ourselves from real enemies who attacked us. But, in some other conflicts since, have all those fallen and wounded faced true enemies? Did they face them after all other means of dealing with them had been exhausted?

Consider those who spilled their blood into the soil of Vietnam. A country where 50 years ago so many of our best died to “save” it from the dangers of communism. Dangers we were told of by other presidents, from both ends of the political spectrum. Kennedy to Johnson to Nixon.

Yet now, despite all those lives lost, that same country is governed by a one-party system, the Communist Party of Vietnam. And now? Now our president attended a peaceful gathering of world leaders there, reasoning with them. Reasoned with words, not bombs.

Let’s allow our imagination to fast forward to Veterans Day 50 years from now to see what possibly that future will bring us.

In that future parade we may see veterans of another terrible war who fought in Korea against its northern regime. Countless lives will have been lost— North Koreans, Americans and South Koreans. But we may also witness Pyongyang, the North Korean capital, being the site of another peaceful gathering, just as the one in Saigon a few days ago.

Shouldn’t our respect and care for the men and women of our Armed Forces include the strive to avoid having them die for failures by our leaders? Failure to try to exhaust all means to achieve peaceful solutions, even if that entails compromises.

Or do we, mostly from the comfort of a chair in front of the TV, uncompromisingly demand that we send our best to fight, and many to die, for what we are being told is right?

Gerhard Meinecke lives in Dickinson.

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