I watched a good episode of Bill Moyers’ program last Sunday, after I came home from church. In it, Bill Moyers talks with Vietnam veteran Karl Marlantes, who is the author of the book What It Is Like to Go to War. Karl talked about such issues as the challenge the military faces of turning people who have been taught by their culture not to kill into killing machines; how young people, the ones who go to war, are more pliable than people in their thirties; the discouragement that people coming home from war experience when they feel that nobody cares about what they just went through; and how applauding returning soldiers like we’re at a football game is not the appropriate response to their service, and what we should do instead to honor them.
It’s a thoughtful discussion, and I don’t think that I’ll see Veterans Day and Memorial Day the same after watching it. I don’t always buy into the propaganda that soldiers overseas are fighting for our freedoms, for I am skeptical that some wars that we’ve fought have anything to do with our freedoms. But I think that it’s important to care about people’s pain.