Leadership can’t be ignored; every time a battle is commenced, there’s an enormous cost connected to it. Take the strategic decision of Hitler’s desperate offensive in WWII at Ardennes, aka The Battle of the Bulge. The Third Reich was headed for defeat and the war would end within months. Those 40 days of war begun in December of 1944 resulted in almost 200,000 military casualties and suffering beyond that which those statistics convey.
The price paid by the Germans, whose careless leaders commanded the assault – was the greatest. One looks back at the atrocities and feels a piercing numbness at the circumstances the Allied soldiers endured.
Simply put, they’re freakin’ heroes.
Today we honor our warriors. Jane Fonda made headlines when I was a kid…something about rendering sympathetic overtones (…maybe blatant would be a better word?) to the enemy and dissing her own country. The hippiesloved it. So did all the malcontents of a despicable era of confusion and rebellion. Vietnam vets got the shaft.
But then Forrest Gump hit the theaters and everything was okay.
Why we fight and kill each other will be the subject of many more tomes of op-ed pieces and scholarly journals for many ages subsequent, as they have been previous. War and Peace should be required reading.
Tolstoy loathed war and depicted it as ridiculous.
As modern historians attempt to recollect (by answering the question WHY ) the past, according to Tolstoy – one of my very favorite lines in the whole of literature was penned: What is so weird and ridiculous about these answers is that modern history is like a deaf man answering questions no one has asked.
Answers, to questions nobody is asking!
Answers you didn’t even know you needed.
More on that, perhaps – in another post.
Today’s focus is appreciation. Each ensuing generation has been and will be – called upon to make the sacrifice. During one watch there is peace; during another there is killing and chaos. One day the reservist is cutting dyes at a machine shop in Des Moines; a week later dodging bullets in Kirkuk.
The heritage, honor and splendor of the American Military forces is a great tradition. World Wars and island skirmishes, jungle warfare and desert storms – our obligations have led us into many engagements against enemies of formidable capacity and scope.
Hostility is no cause for rejoicing; unfortunately, threats will never disappear from the world’s landscape.
Heck, even in Toy Story 2 there was a bad toy…Stinky Pete the Prospector!
Beyond the romantic (see Tolstoy) distortion of war, combat and epic confrontations – the trees in the forest are men and women of ordinary ilk…doing what their leaders have asked them to do.
Which makes for the opportunity to mention the unfortunate events of the past week. The revelation of Gen. Petraeus’ indiscretion is a sad note to end upon, given an otherwise honorable career in service to America.
Part of what’s missing from the front pages of our cultural daily is the exemplary lives of our leaders. Those lives aren’t missing, they’re simply unheralded. Many, many – are the daily faithful.
I hope Gen. Petraeus and his family can get past this with forgiveness and a repentant spirit, best hopes, prayers and wishes for just that.
Today, America pauses to honor good men and good women who, with courage and resolve – protect and defend our nation. That is nothing short of heroic.
Thank you, all of you – from each generation past and present. May the future citizens who serve find inspiration in your legacy…may they stand upon your shoulders, some of the giants who came before them.
Leadership must be worthy of faithful warriors. The reason a moral stumble by leaders (like Petraeus and Clinton) is especially hard to stomach, might well be captured in a famous quote by F.B. Meyer:
“The supreme test of goodness is not in the greater but in the smaller incidents of our character and practice; not what we are when standing in the searchlight of public scrutiny, but when we reach the firelight flicker of our homes.”
Pray for leadership worthy of the sacred call – in all the places that matter.