Let’s Truly Honor Our War Dead

It’s Memorial Day weekend in the United States, and President Bush said in his Saturday radio address that the bravery of U.S. soldiers “has secured a way of life for our entire country. These heroes and their families should be in our thoughts and prayers on a daily basis, and they should receive our loving thanks at every possible opportunity.”

With such a somber sentiment I couldn’t agree more, but from him it rings hollow as a burnt tree in Baghdad.

Bill Moyers said on Friday: “We honor our war dead this Memorial Day weekend. The greatest respect we could pay them would be to pledge no more wars for erroneous and misleading reasons; no more killing and wounding except for the defense of our country and our freedoms.”

He explored a Rand Corporation study indicating that about 300,000 veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder — PTSD — or major depression, brought on by combat.

“The rate of attempted or successful soldier suicides is so scary the head of the VA’s mental health division wondered in a February e-mail how it should be spun. ‘Shhhh,’ he wrote. ‘Our suicide prevention coordinators are identifying about 1,000 suicide attempts per month among the veterans we see in our medical facilities. Is this something we should carefully address ourselves in some sort of release before someone stumbles on it?'”

Mr. Moyers then played a clip from Rep. Bob Filner (D-CA): “The hearing today is entitled ‘The Truth About Veteran Suicides.’ … If we do not admit, if we do not assume, if we do not know what the problem is, then the problem will continue and people die. If that’s not criminal negligence I don’t know what is.”

Mr. Moyers concluded: “Once upon a time kids asked their fathers, ‘What did you do in the war, Daddy?’ It’s a question the next generation could ask all of us, who stood by as our government invaded Iraq to start a war whose purpose and rationale keep shifting and whose end is nowhere in sight, and who look now with nonchalance upon the unseen scars of those who are fighting it.”

The segment is at the bottom of the transcript page.

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