Former USMC here. You're welcome.to those member who have served...thanks
But, I no longer consider my service deserving of thanks.
Permit me to relate a little something. In boot camp, the USMC made a big deal of one of its most famous Marines, Gen. Smedley Butler. We were required to know about "old gimlet eye" (penetrating eyes). Now, Smedley Butlter changed his stripes. He finally realized that the US military is used not to fight for rights, but to fight to forward the interests of government and big business. He wrote a short book about it, now in the public domain, "War is a Racket." He even proposed the Peace Amendment (google it).
But, boot camp never mentioned those other things. Just "gimlet eye" and the vague impression that he was a very important Marine.
Now, why would your average Drill Instructor or the colonel in charge of training at Parris Island require his recruits to know about Smedley Butler, but without mentioning the rest of his story after he resigned? Butler destroyed most of the US justifications for war. Think about this for a moment, a USMC general repudiated his entire military career, and the government motives for which he fought.
Its almost as though the drill instructors and training officers wanted us to know. There really is no other reason to mention Butler or require knowing about him. He wasn't more effective that Howling Mad Smith or the other famous officers of the USMC. Its almost as though the drill instructors and training commander wanted us to have that little thread those of us smart enough could pursue later.
Alas, I wasn't smart enough. It wasn't until years later that I came across War is a Racket. By this point, I had already read the biography of the most venerated Marine officer, Lt. Gen. Lewis (Chesty) Puller. Already knowing Puller's military postings, Butler's words rang true when he recounted in War is a Racket some of the same campaigns Puller was involved in. That plus my high-school history teacher's implied meanings came back to me.
I was lucky enough to serve during relative peace time. So, I didn't risk any skin. At that point in my youth (stupid) I was willing to take on a whole squad of Russian infantry--and dumb enough to think I could.
But, since then, I've concluded that even my willingness to step into harm's way was misplaced trust in rhetoric, jingoism, and pedagoguery. I didn't fight for anybody's rights, and if Butler is right in War is Racket, by extension neither did most of our nation's war dead.
So, you're welcome. But, I think most of our war maimed and dead deserve not so much to be remembered for their sacrifice, but for the deceptions that induced their sacrifice. They were the good guys believing in what they were doing; it was government's deceptions that got them killed. Remember that this Memorial Day, and I will consider my service worth something.