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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Editorial: A day of remembrance for forgotten vets

There was a time when people would huddle around newsstands to read about foreign conflicts. Enormous crowds of people would flood the streets to see American troops off as they left for “”over there,”” or to greet them when they returned. At home, citizens rallied around war efforts en masse, giving up luxuries to help soldiers abroad stay safe and comfortable.    

Now, even with the wonders of our 24/7 “”never say die”” news cycle, we devote more time to Lady Gaga’s views on French pension reform or whatever permutation of (enter word here)-gate scandal the media is foisting down our throats that particular week. More people care about when Lil Wayne will get out of jail than when our troops will leave Afghanistan or Iraq. Some people paste yellow “”Support our Troops”” ribbons or “”These Colors Don’t Run”” bumper stickers to their Ford F-450s, but that’s about the extent of it today.

But these are the times we live in. And on this Veteran’s Day, it is fair to wonder if anyone out there still cares.  

The very notion of Veteran’s Day has become an anachronism, serving only to remind us of the glory days when our enemies could be identified by a red coat and powdered wig, a swastika armband or a hammer-and-sickle pin. Gone are those victorious images of Gen. Douglas MacArthur walking the beaches of a recently captured Pacific island, or overjoyed soldiers flashing victory signs. Instead we have former President George W. Bush standing in front of a “”Mission Accomplished”” banner, a questionable enough action at the time that becomes more cringe-worthy with each passing day, as it becomes clear just how far away from accomplishment we truly are.

But it’s who is caught up in these forgotten wars that is the real travesty. They are the tens of thousands of men and women who all took the oath to protect and serve their nation, who all left the comforts of home for the uncertainty and danger of lands thousands of miles away. Should we so casually and callously dismiss their sacrifice because they didn’t deliver the blowout win in the War on Terror that so many expected?

Just as the very act and conduct of war itself has changed, so must our expectations. But what should never change is our commitment to honor those who fought for a cause they believed in, and to remember those who fell as a result. Regardless of whether you agree with the wars, or how America has conducted them, men and women from all corners of this nation and from all walks of life have made the impossibly brave choice to fight for what they believe is right. And all politics and jaded sneering aside, those people deserve honor and respect. The decision to leave behind everything you know, uncertain of whether you’ll ever return, to be a part of something greater than yourself, something you cherish, believe in and want to fight for — that’s what Veteran’s Day is meant to honor.

So look around you today. Because contrary to most young people’s view of the world, veterans are not just wizened old men and women who fought in wars beyond the scope of our lifetimes. The holiday also honors the young men and women on our very campus who served, not 30 years ago, but perhaps last year.

College campuses are too quick to dismiss Veteran’s Day as something for old people, an excuse to drink on a Wednesday night or an extra homework-laden day before the reality of finals sinks in.

But for once, let Veteran’s Day mean something. Remember the oft-overlooked veterans among us at the UA, and forget whatever political prejudices you may attach to their enormous sacrifice. Instead, just say thank you.

— Editorials are determined by the Daily Wildcat opinions board and written by one of its members. They are Heather Price-Wright, Luke Money, Colin Darland and Steven Kwan. They can be reached at letters@wildcat.arizona.edu.

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