A fading yellow ribbon
Today I came across an article written by Kevin Tillman, the brother of Pat Tillman, who you may or may not remember was the former NFL player who joined the Army Rangers and was killed in Afghanistan under the cloud of a government cover-up. http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/200601019_after_pats_birthday/
Kevin Tillman served alongside Pat in the Army Rangers, and took the time to write a powerful, moving article that questions the legitimacy of our invasion of Iraq, as well as the consequences that should be faced by our leaders that lied to the people and deceived them to achieve personal gains. We as soldiers are not allowed to question the rationale or motivation behind our government's decision to wage war. It is our duty to serve our country and follow orders, not to ask why. Kevin illustrates this point succinctly when he recalls a conversation he had with Pat upon joining, "He spoke about the risks with signing the papers. How once we committed, we were at the mercy of the American leadership and the American people. How we could be thrown in a direction not of our volition. How fighting as a soldier would leave us without a voice… until we got out." These remarks prompted some self-reflection, namely, is blind obedience the course that we should take as a country? If it is true that our leadership lied to us and led us into a unecessary war on false pretenses, what consequences should they face, and what position does that put the scores of troops currently serving, and the hundreds of thousands of veterans of Iraq? The sense of patriotism and civic duty that is so ingrained in those serving their country stands to be undermined by a leadership that seems to be callous to the deaths of thousands and raw wounds of an entire generation of veterans.
It is impossible for those who send troops off to war to comprehend the grim realities of combat unless they have experienced it themselves. This is why after Vietnam, an entire generation vowed that American citizens should not be sent to die on foreign land without good reason. It is easy for an administration to commit troops to war when they don't have have to worry about their own children serving. The public's support for the war has waned considerably, they demand good answers for why they should send their sons and daughters to fight. The yellow-ribbon patriotism displayed by the public in the early years of the war has begun to fade, much like the magnetic sticker, and now is the time for answers.
John Locke once wrote that it is the purpose of the government to serve the interests of the people, and when they fail to do so, it is the duty of the people to question and usurp their government with one that will act on behalf of the nation. If our overseas engagements are truly in defense of the people, then our leadership owes us some answers, and some solutions as well. We created the current quagmire in Iraq, and it is our responsibility to remedy the situation.