Protest the war, not the soldiers

ìThe military donít [sic] start wars.† Politicians start wars,” the American general William Westmoreland once said. And he is absolutely correct.

In the wars of recent years, including both the Vietnam conflict and the War on Terror in Iraq and Afghanistan, there have been numerous protests and demonstrations. Groups of people line up along streets or outside government buildings holding their signs and chanting little ditties; the majority of them are† young students who feel the need to protest the ugly thing that is war.

It is not my way to bash any personís beliefs or values on something so big an issue as war. Being against war is a good thing; no one should enjoy the idea of killing people. Protesting these killings is also a good thing. But seeing a soldier, who fights for those they have never seen, being bashed and slandered, is disgusting.

In the Vietnam conflict protesters went too far on airport tarmac in San Francisco. A Med-Flight, coming in from Hawaii, full of soldiers, most of whom had been drafted, landed in San Francisco.† The disabled soldiers had to make their way from the plane to the terminal. Lining their path were tons of protesters. Having watched this event live on television, First Class Petty Officer Ronald Wallace recalls how the men had been spit and yelled at; specifically being called ìbaby-killers.” It is one thing to protest the war itself, but to blame those whose lives have been taken and who have paid a larger price than any protester will ever know, is wrong.

The present wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have been a central issue of many debates and elections. Ever since the beginning, protesters have zeroed in on this war. While more peaceful than the Vietnam protests, todayís protests still have an anti-military or anti-troop air. In London one group of protesters had signs that read ìThank God for dead soldiers”; another protest in Times Square in New York was graced with banners of the anti-troop message reading ìF**k the troops”.

Protesters have their purpose and have the right to express any views they choose, but donít forget that a soldier died for that right. Every day soldiers defend the American ideal and the American rights that allow protesters to do the things they do. Would it be so much to ask that the soldiers come home to welcomes, not curses? Before going out and standing in that line of your peers, screaming and chanting, holding your signs, think about what the soldiers go through. How many of them are scarred on the outside as well as the inside when they come home? Step into a soldierís shoes ó what would you do if you were placed in a foreign land where they hate you? Would you want to come home and have your own country hate you too?

It is not a protestersí role to punish† soldiers. Going through war in any way is truly enough of an ordeal. If one is going to hate a war, hate those who put the soldiers there, not the soldiers themselves. They are simply following orders so that we can have the simple rights we take for granted every day of our lives.

This is Anastasia Wallaceís first editorial for the Voice. She can be reached for comment at AWallace12@wooster.edu.

One thought on “Protest the war, not the soldiers”

  1. I agree to some extent, but the real problem is the opposite: people worship military service to the extent that any action of U.S. soldiers is unquestionable. Thoughtlessly worshiping soldiers represents a militaristic and jingoistic worldview, which is absolutely dangerous to American democracy. see here-

    http://www.commondreams.org/view/2010/08/23

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