Veterans Day is a day we honor our comrades for their service, and a day set-aside for those who have not served to honor us. But as honored as I am to have worn the uniform of my country in combat, that's not what's on my mind today.
Next week, the US postal service will stop delivering mail to Iraq. Many civilians may not get this but for those of us who served, it's an all too real acknowledgement that the war is ending. For real this time. Sometime in 2014, we'll go through the same drill in Afghanistan. The most recent vintage of American combat Veterans, those that will return home from their first deployment this December, were elementary schoolers on September 11th. We've created an entire generation of Veterans who know little to nothing of a world in which America is not at persistent, endless war.
I'm proud to have gone to war for my country. And I think that while we have little gain at this point by remaining in Afghanistan, our presence there was originally justified. And I also know a few other things.
War is shit. War is god awful. War is the most terrible thing imaginable for everyone directly or peripherally involved. From the combatants on either side, to their families, to the innocents who are harmed (or even those that aren't harmed at all but live every day of their lives in fear of mortal harm). Sometimes, war is necessary. But we owe it to those who will be impacted by it, especially those whole will become Veterans of it, to make damn sure it's worth the cost.
Now isn't the time for me to make grand arguments or provide geopolitical analysis of which wars are or have been worth it and which wars haven't. Lord knows, I spend plenty of time doing that already. No, this Veterans day I'm merely hoping that as conflicts arise in the future, we consider the Veterans we will be making, the young men and women who we will teach to know nothing of a nation not at terrible, god awful war, and hoping that if we do that we know without uncertainty that its going to be worth it.
Bill Corcoran, Fmr. Cpl (E-4), United States Army Combat Engineers, founder and editor of "CORKSPHERE."