There really isn’t a good war

Published 10:04 am Wednesday, January 21, 2009

“This country, with its institutions, belongs to the people who inhabit it. Whenever they shall grow weary of the existing government, they can exercise their constitutional right of amending it, or exercise their revolutionary right to overthrow It.” — Abe Lincoln

My spell check invited me to capitalize the “I” in it. I’m torn between leaving the “it” that was there before the spell check intervened. The spell check won out.

The Lincoln quotation is one not often quoted. Last Sunday afternoon I happened to turn on the television and watched a crowd estimated at about 300,000 gathered in Washington to honor “King Sunday” and to hear in his own words: “We have an opportunity to make a better nation.”

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Instead of saying, “Yes we do” we can say “Yes we can.”

On Monday, Martin Luther King’s birthday, an e-mail came from Sen. Ted Kennedy calling on us to become more civic-minded. Even at my age this is still a consideration, a consideration I hope to pursue.

It was wonderful to listen to the event even though I missed Bruce Springsteen’s “Come On Up for the Rising.” Many things were said about Lincoln as well as words from passing presidents: Kennedy’s “Ask not what your country can do for you but ask what you can do for your country.” That had an impact on my generation when we were graduating from high school.

Denzel Washington told the crowd, “We come here knowing that we are all in this together.”

This is the change we have long awaited these past eight years where what transpired may have moved the nation to think in terms of what Lincoln was quoted as saying above.

Obama said: “The dream of our founders will live on in our time.” That seemed to warm up the audience and the television viewers. There were some, no doubt, that listened to this event on the radio; something I might have preferred.

When this ended Jeanne asked if I wanted to go see Gran Torino with Clint Eastwood. We were there with a bag of popcorn as Clint, looking older than ever and his voice growing deeper ushered out thoughts on the changing neighborhood, the loss of his wife and his acknowledgement of what it means to “go to war” again.

What it must mean is what we have witnessed in Gaza from a safe distance. Israel got what it wanted. For the people in Gaza this has created great harm.

A resident who was ejected from southern Gaza was quoted as saying, “If you want to make peace with the Palestinians, they are tired of bombs, drones and planes. But a guy whose child has been killed doesn’t want peace. He wants war.” The Star Tribune said Monday that the people of Gaza felt such pain from this war that they will seek to rein in Hamas.

Now I see that our military is getting the numbers they need due in part to the loss of jobs and reduced employment. There is a part of me that wonders if re-instating the draft would be advisable. Most of the soldiers I soldiered with in Vietnam were draftees. The first one I met on the flight from San Francisco to Hawaii where we trained before going to Vietnam was Jim Hinkle.

We had fun together along with his artillery surveyor friends from Ft. Sill, Okla. Hinkle died in Japan two weeks after going over a command detonated 155 artillery round buried in the road on their way to the dump. His mother was told he died in the line of duty.

Back then being in the National Guard prevented you from going to war, but you still trained and served within the United States.

We have a new commander-in-chief as of yesterday whose thinking is not influenced by a secret few. We have a new “decider” who will take into account what others have to say, not just a secret few. And I don’t think he will refer to the “evil-doers” as the outgoing commander-in-chief did.

There really isn’t a good war, and hopefully our children’s children may not have to witness one or the drones.

I would prefer to see, at least on a local level, that those with concerns regarding community issues or questions come and share those concerns with the Human Rights Commission who meet monthly at the library. And finally, thanks to those who joined the Martin Luther King event Monday night at Our Savior’s Lutheran Church.