Following my Veterans Day post, the conversation continues with Ben Coker, Jr. of South Carolina about war, service and our commitment as Americans. Hope others will join the dialogue. Will keep posting as our back and forth continues.
Dear Mr. Coker,
Thank you so much for reading my blog and for your incredibly thoughtful comments. Part of the reason I write is to leaving something for my children to discover someday and to dialogue with people like you, at least virtually. It is always a great pleasure when someone shares their thoughts and stories with me. Would it be OK with you if I posted your letter on my blog? To tell you a bit of the backstory that led to my blog post, I was born in 1958 in Hawaii and was a child during the Vietnam War. Although soldiers were coming and going through Hawaii, the war and the protests were really on the periphery of my life. It wasn’t until I moved to San Francisco in my 20’s that I realized how oblivious I had been and had a sense of the toll and outcry. I learned about the service of my father (he was a Polish Jew who lost his parents in the holocaust and fought the Nazis in the Polish underground and Army) in a short memoir he wrote and by reading Tom Brokaw’s “The Greatest Generation.” I finally understood why my dad jumped if you woke him suddenly or why he didn’t want to talk about those years. He never shared his experiences until shortly before his death. Like other veterans of his era, he stoically moved forward and kept the pain inside. Mostly I grew up in a world at peace and was honestly surprised when I learned my son has to register with Selective Service when he turns 18. I had no idea.
What has me conflicted, Mr. Coker, is that we seem to wage war for the wrong reasons these days. Everyone stood together in WWII. It was a righteous response to tyranny. These days I’m not so sure. You have a son in Afghanistan so maybe you can help me with this. We fight to bring democracy to countries like Iraq and Afghanistan so moderate Muslims around the world can know of freedom, even as we oppress and distrust our Muslim citizens here at home. We respond to 9-11 by going into Iraq to fend off a rogue leader and search for weapons of mass destruction that don’t exist. We don’t consider how this will effect the people there and how painful the transition will be. We boost Pakistan and Afghanistan while the leadership harbors our enemies and Osama Bin Laden thumbs his nose at us. And we fight for nations with incredible records of human rights abuses and expect our participation will change the culture. If my son goes to war I want to believe in the cause with every fiber of my soul and I want him to believe in it too. I guess I don’t feel confident that our leaders are taking us down the right road these days. That’s why a call to duty scares me. The other thing is that I don’t see a safer world for our troubles. It seems we have fewer freedoms at home and a more unstable world.
If you would like to continue sharing more thoughts with me I would really appreciate your point of view. I don’t feel castigated at all and with your permission I’ll put our back and forth on my blog. This world needs a lot more people who are willing to dialogue through these kinds of things and I feel privileged to have a chance to do so with you. Warmest regards to you and Polly and your brave son. Best, Vicky Collins
For more information on Vicky Collins visit http://teletrendstv.com.