and the
Citizens Economic Research Foundation

Barbara's Column
May #5

Gen. Patton said it best
regarding those who gave lives for their country
by Barbara Anderson

The Salem News
Thursday, May 31, 2007

I've been marching in or watching Memorial Day parades since I was a Girl Scout Brownie, except when I was living abroad or ailing.

This year my ankle was ailing, so I didn't go. I feel bad about that, especially with the war in Iraq adding people who need to be remembered every day. I did display the flag, read the relevant newspaper editorials and features, and watched the Memorial Day concert on television.

The concert isn't like the Boston Pops on the Fourth of July -- no masses of people singing and waving flags, no fireworks. This year it was very sad, with its "reach out to wounded soldiers" theme. Two actors played the roles of a soldier and his wife, telling their story, which included the fact that after he was wounded he was discharged and stopped receiving many benefits while they struggled to pay his bills.

I spent the afternoon in my hammock, reading and napping, and listening to Avi Nelson on WRKO.

Avi asked veterans to call in. Some were feeling unappreciated by their country after their service. One wondered why members of Congress have better health care benefits than he does; and another, why illegal immigrants can get more assistance than he can.

Avi noted a new Times/CBS poll showing broad support for many provisions in the immigration bill that is being debated by Congress this week. But while the Times celebrated that "most of those polled agreed that illegal immigrants should eventually be allowed to apply to become American citizens," 59 percent said illegal immigrants should be considered for citizenship only after legal immigrants who have played by the rules.

Of those polled, 70 percent see illegal immigration as "a drain on the economy." I'm sure if they were asked, most Americans would set services for wounded Iraq war veterans as a higher priority than services for the illegals.

Since we can never count on government to set popular priorities, I'm sending another check to Disabled American Veterans tomorrow -- but this is one charity that shouldn't be necessary. If we are to survive as a nation, we must take care of those who defend our nation.

While missing the parade, I read the e-mail sent to me about the holiday.

Numbers USA reminded me that "there is a reason that the nation's largest veterans organization -- the American Legion -- is working alongside us to stop the Senate Comprehensive Amnesty bill: Those whom we honor today did not die for open borders."

My friend, Jean, sent an essay by Raymond Kraft, who put some things in perspective: That "WWII cost America more than 400,000 soldiers killed in action"; and that so far the Iraq War has killed slightly more than "the people killed by the Jihad in the 9/11 attack." Many more, however, have been wounded and survived.

I've been thinking about two front-page stories, with photos, that appeared together in this newspaper last winter. One was about Swampscott Marine Capt. Jennifer Harris, who died when her helicopter crashed; the other was about Anna Nicole Smith. The contrast was startling. Everyone dies, but some die because of foolish personal choices involving drugs, alcohol, relationships, and after living what seem to be rather pathetic lives; while others are heroes, whose entire lives, however short, were exemplary.

I want everyone I love to pass away in their sleep after a long, happy life. But if all can't, dying while fighting for freedom is better than being killed by a drunk driver or a terrible disease. Still, I don't know how parents deal with not knowing how their fighting children are, day to day; or how the families of the still-missing soldiers can bear their ordeal.

Friends my age were one year ahead of the Vietnam draft. Even as a Navy wife, I knew mostly older military men who weren't fighting in-country. There was no war for my son's age group. I worry about what might be coming for my grandchildren.

Kraft also wrote that war is not a "2-hour movie in which everything comes out okay. The real world is not like that. It is messy, uncertain, and sometimes bloody and ugly. It always has been, and probably always will be. The bottom line is that we will have to deal with Islamic terrorism until we defeat it, whenever that is. It will not go away if we ignore it."

He adds: 'If the U.S. can create a reasonably democratic and stable Iraq, then we have an ally ... in the Middle East, a platform from which we can work to help modernize and moderate the Middle East. The history of the world is the clash between the forces of relative civility and civilization, and the barbarians clamoring at the gates to conquer the world. ...The Iraq War is merely another battle in this ancient and never ending war."

Finally, the Patriot Post sent me some holiday-relevant quotes. My favorite was from General George Patton who insisted, "It is foolish and wrong to mourn the men who died. Rather we should thank God that such men lived." Amen.

Barbara Anderson is executive director of Citizens for Limited Taxation. Her column appears weekly in the Salem News and Eagle Tribune, and often in the Newburyport Times, Gloucester Times, and Lowell Sun; bi-weekly in the Tinytown Gazette; and occasionally in the Providence (RI) Journal and other newspapers.