Monday, May 30, 2011

I Remembered Something

Memorial Day is all about remembering.

I remember being surprised as a teenage Kiwi student, studying in the U.S. One day I received a letter from the U.S. Government, asking me to register with the Selective Service System since they were contemplating re-instituting the draft. 

It was around the time of the botched attempt to rescue American hostages held at the U.S. Embassy in Tehran (April 1980), which many think cost Carter his presidency. Tensions were high, and there was talk about the possibility of war.

After getting over my surprise that foreign students could be conscripted to fight, I sent off my registration, and wondered what would come of it.

That's the closest I've ever come to war: putting a piece of mail in the mailbox and imagining.

When I think of those who actually were conscripted for this or that war, and especially of those who volunteered, and went off to fight, I am incredibly grateful.

War is hell. There are a hundred reasons not to go to war. And there are a handful of reasons to go to war. Sometimes countries get it right, and sometimes they get it wrong.

Whatever the case at the political level, those who actually go are heroes in many ways, starting with the "mere" fact of them going. Even that, I can only imagine.

And then there are those who go, and who engage in hostilities and suffer in ways I have no clue about, along with their families.

This morning's Wisconsin State Journal has a moving article from the Chicago Tribune about a few of those heroes. Here's the electronic version:,0,74747,full.column