DAVID ROSMAN: Let's remember our troops in 2011

Wednesday, December 29, 2010 | 4:20 p.m. CST; updated 5:45 p.m. CST, Wednesday, December 29, 2010

COLUMBIA — As the year draws to a close, everyone (yes, everyone) is dusting off his or her soothsayer turbans, polishing little glass globes, unpacking Tarot cards and completing SWOT charts to make predictions for 2011, mostly based on the incorrect predictions from 2010.

At the same time, we are lamenting the losses we all took, financially, emotionally, physically, personally and vicariously since the first of January 2010. Did I mention the self-flagellation for not keeping any of the resolutions made at the end of 2009? No need, you’ll beat up yourself as you make the same promises for the coming year — weight loss, a new job, stopping that bad habit of drinking at work and the others.

This column is about none of the above. I am teaching, paid a princely amount for writing this column (not really) and enjoying life. Kathy and I are healthy, and I cannot ask for more than that. What this column is about is the 1 percent of Americans in our military and those fighting the war in Afghanistan, a number provided by the White House, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, members of Congress and a plethora of journalists.

My father was a World War II fighter pilot stationed in Pisa, Italy. He won the Distinguished Flying Cross while on a mission over Germany. Today he volunteers his summer time at the Air Power Museum at Republic Airport in Farmingdale, N.Y., telling visitors about the great airplanes he flew during and after the war. He will be 88 on his next birthday.

What my dad rarely talks about are the sacrifices his family and friends made back in the states during and after the war years. Food and fuel were rationed and scrap metal recycling drives were held daily. Women gave up silk stockings so pilots like my dad could have parachutes. Sacrifice was the norm.

Everyone talked about the war, in barbershops, diners and at home, listening to the latest news on the radio. People knew each country in Europe and the names of the islands in the Pacific and could find each on a world map.

During the Vietnam War, we watched the nightly news about the protests against the war. There was a national debate, continuous, rancorous and sometimes vicious, about the justification or lack of justification for the conflict. I did not serve in the military, but I was a part of that discussion, finding my political legs and standing strong on the issues, always supporting our troops.

For nine years, Americans have been fighting and dying in Afghanistan. If it were not for the side trip taken by President George Bush in Iraq, the war against the Taliban might have been over by now, Osama bin Laden might be captured or dead, and the Afghan government might be doing whatever it would do without an invading army looking over its shoulder.

Today, conversations concerning the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are missing in action, as are the sacrifices we should be making at home for those who are fighting overseas. Yes, unemployment is closing in on 10 percent, but we could and should all do our share.

I am as guilty of not acting and not speaking about the war as anyone. I have not given up a thing to help those who are “in theater” or for the Afghan people. Yes, my family’s finances are tight, and we need to look out for ourselves. Yet I could afford a few bucks to the USO or the veteran organizations helping the men and women returning wounded, physically and emotionally. Our newest veterans are living on the streets, cannot find employment and are not getting the physical and mental help they need. I — we — are doing little to help.

We talk about the war as if it were a video game that we do not want our children or grandchildren to play. The war is “there,” not here, and the dogs of war are hidden behind self-induced blindness or self-serving patriotism. We are more worried about receiving the right electronic toy for Christmas than we are for those who honorably serve our country.

Entering 2011, I am ashamed and determined to change, to make a difference. Will you?

David Rosman is an award-winning editor, writer, professional speaker and college instructor in communications, ethics, business and politics. You can read more of David’s commentaries at and New York Journal of Books.

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Paul Allaire December 29, 2010 | 5:05 p.m.

That is a really well written column and I intend to get on here just as soon as someone else gets on here to argue it.

(Report Comment)
Michael Williams December 29, 2010 | 5:50 p.m.

"I — we — are doing little to help."

That's why it is incumbent for each of us to define what is meant when we say, "I support the troops."

INO, you have to define "support."

On a related note, an aunt of ours died on Jan 1 of this year. During the job of taking care of the estate, a telegram was found. It was addressed to her brother and was about his son; it was old, yellow, and stained, and dated from WW2.

The first words were, "The War Department regrets to inform you..."

(Report Comment)
John Schultz December 29, 2010 | 10:29 p.m.

For anyone who is interested in helping out just a little like David mentioned, Columbia is home to a Marines charity that ships out care packages to deployed Marines five times a year (among other activities that I am less familiar with). You can sponsor a monthly care package for $26/month or volunteer to help out at the next pack date of January 22nd:

CBC's Hockey Night in Canada has a weekly segment called Coach's Corner. For the past few years, one of the cohosts would read those Canadians who had died in Iraq or Afghanistan in the previous weeks as their pictures were displayed. This is something I don't recall ever hearing about in the US media.

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hank ottinger December 30, 2010 | 1:43 p.m.

The News Hour on PBD routinely notes, in silence with titles and photographs, those who've died in Iraq and Afghanistan. All networks should do likewise, as well newspapers, preferably above-the-fold.

Tragically, more attention is paid to a seasonal snowstorm or a forgettable football game than to the treasury-draining, enemy-building, and bloodletting of these absurd conflicts.

(Report Comment)
hank ottinger December 30, 2010 | 1:45 p.m.

Sorry, in my earlier note, it's PBS not "PBD."

(Report Comment)
David Rosman December 30, 2010 | 2:51 p.m.

John - Also on ABC's "This Week" the names of American soldiers who have died are read. Over the years watching, I find that the average soldier was 22 to 25-years old. I include their families as part of the wounded by the wars.

Thank you all for your kind remarks.


(Report Comment)
Don Milsop December 31, 2010 | 3:29 p.m.

I have participated in many hospital visits to wounded military as well as hospitalized veterans in Houston, San Antonio, and Honolulu. I have also participated in many packing parties with the Marine Moms sending care packages to Iraq and Afghanistan. Participation by Democrats is virtually nonexistent. Most of the parents include a father, and not infrequently a mother, who are also veterans. The conclusion is that liberals care no more about our warriors and veterans than they do about unborn babies. The military for liberals is just a tool for political purposes. Classic example was the recent Medal of Honor ceremony for Army SSgt Sal Giunta. The families of SSgt Giunta and the soldiers who died were stuck back on the third row. At the front? All the politicians. When liberals start supporting the mission of our warriors and their honor system, and stop toying with military as a place for social experimentation, then we might believe you truly care about them.

By the way, a large part of my community is military, I can tell you that the military does not support homosexuality in the armed services. Any poll to the contrary is so much garbage.

(Report Comment)
Don Milsop December 31, 2010 | 3:32 p.m.

Oh, since Paul refused to comment on this on Colonel Miller's op/ed, this video with Mike Wallace and Peter Jennings reveals far more about how liberals really feel about our military:

(Report Comment)
Don Milsop December 31, 2010 | 4:26 p.m.

Mr. Rosman, please note the the sacrifices Americans made during WW2 were for the purpose of WINNING the war. What sacrifice will you make to actually help defeat radical Islam? Will you start by recognizing that the nature of Islam itself is a huge part of the problem? Will you push and cajole Muslims into more active support of the war against Islamic terrorism? I haven't seen any attempt by the Islamic community for form their own version of the famed 442nd Regimental Combat Team of Americans of Japanese descent who fought so courageously during WW2.

More than anything else our military wants from all Americans is their support and belief in the validity of their mission. Anything other than that is just window dressing in their eyes.

(Report Comment)
Michael Williams December 31, 2010 | 5:10 p.m.

Don says, "...and belief in the validity of their mission."

Precisely. This is why knowing the definition of "support" is so important.

IMO, "support" in the absence of what you so eloquently stated above is just so-many-empty-words. Who needs THAT kind of support?

(Report Comment)
Paul Allaire January 1, 2011 | 7:24 p.m.

Don, you are incredible. Here a "leftist" or "liberal" is advocating doing something to support the people involved in your nation's conflict and you immediately start vilifying the "leftist liberals" for not supporting the same people and for using them as pawns in a game. I don't believe most "leftists" and "liberals" are exactly supportive of the game itself, so who then is really using them as pawns in whose game? You forget that the author's father served honorably and volunteers his time. You probably don't know that this "typical leftist liberal" also served honorably and you omit the fact that countless others have also because that doesn't suit your argument.
You then cite your imagination when you state that the majority of those serving don't support allowing gays to serve. I can think of a few lesbians on active duty that probably do support their right to serve. I can remember a few gay men who served around me and got booted out who had absolutely no other discipline problems. I can remember a time when I shared some of your prejudice, but it seems like the stone age now.
Then you lash out at me for the remarks of a couple journalists. While I am all about transparency in government and while I strongly recognize the need for the press, I do tend to disfavor many of the methods used by many journalists and I feel that something is lacking, often reporting skills. How this got into the discussion is beyond me. Possibly you are senile. You should attempt to stay on point. Even the worst reporter could do that much.
Then finally you acknowledge your belief that we are and should be fighting a religious war against a population several times that of this nation, in fact a significant portion of the world. And you wonder why there is not the same type of brigade when our conflicts have no clear mission. It was not the nation of Afghanistan or Iraq that attacked us. It was a former agent of our own intelligence community. And you omit the fact that there are Muslims serving at this moment.
You are done. The only reason I am asking you which island you are on is because I am hoping which one it isn't.

(Report Comment)
David Rosman January 2, 2011 | 11:12 p.m.

Paul - I know it is unusual, but thank you for your support on this issue. This is not a religious war. Those who are making a war of religion, in this case Christianity versus Islam, are misinformed and misguided zealots who hate anyone who does not think or believe as they do.

Don - The United States is not a "Christian nation," never was and, hopefully, never will be. Our war in Afghanistan is against al Qeada and the Taliban, not Islam. Our misplaced war in Iraq was not against Islam. President Bush said so. Every U.S. commander in theater has said so. President Obama has said so. So why you believe this is a religious based war is beyond the scope of any reasonable person.

If you deem yourself a Christian, then you are not following the teaching of your Savior and should be shamed for your actions. You do not understand the relationship between all of the Abrahamic religions and do not know that one of the many holy books of Islam is the Christian Testament. However, it is their belief that Jesus was not God in man's image, but another prophet. As the Mormons believe Joseph Smith was a prophet -

And Mormons are Christians, right? Or are you at war with them also?

(Report Comment)
Derrick Fogle January 3, 2011 | 12:17 a.m.

@David: What do you mean, "The United States is not a "Christian nation"?!?

I just posted the stats on another story of yours. Here's the refresher:

78% of US citizens claim Christianity as their faith. ... Of the 536 national politicians, 465 (87%) claim to be Christians. 71 (13%) are not Christians. 45 (10%) of those are Jewish. Only 16 (3%) are non Judeo-Christian.

Legally, of course, the United States (via it's Constitution) is decidedly secular. The reason for the Constitutional secularity was not a vision of freedom of all truly different major religions. It was a vision of freedom of various Christian religions. The lesson learned at the time was the horrors of different sects of Christian faiths vs. each other. Catholic vs. Protestant conflicts back then were much the same as Christian vs. Islam today.

I personally think it's hilariously ironic that Christian-on-Christian conflicts led to the establishment of a legally secular country. Now, Christians are crying about governmental oppression of their faith. 250 years later? Still their own worst enemies. LOL! The fact that Christians so often decry Sharia, while in nearly the same breath advocating for their own version of religion-based law, is mind-boggling. That's straight from the "projection" department. They're really just jealous of the swift and brutal "justice" Sharia can impart on lawbreakers. Double the TASER deployments, please.

Regardless of what the Constitution says, historically, and statistically, the United States is most certainly a Christian nation. Saying it's not is a bald-face lie. And the fact that it is, makes it trivial to implant the notion in people's heads that this is a Christian vs. Islam war. It may not be "the" technically correct truth, and the same has been stated numerous times by numerous people, as you point out. But it's certainly "a" truth that plenty of people still hear and believe, because there's a grain of truth in there somewhere.

Admit reality first, and start reasoning from there, instead of basing your reasoning on a falsehood.

(Report Comment)
John Schultz January 3, 2011 | 2:36 a.m.

Paul, I missed your last comment when they were originally posted, but you nailed it 100%.

(Report Comment)
Jack Hamm January 3, 2011 | 7:17 a.m.

@ Derrick

“Legally, of course, the United States (via it's Constitution) is decidedly secular. The reason for the Constitutional secularity was not a vision of freedom of all truly different major religions. It was a vision of freedom of various Christian religions.”

The founding fathers disagree with you…

“Where the preamble declares, that coercion is a departure from the plan of the holy author of our religion, an amendment was proposed by inserting "Jesus Christ," so that it would read "A departure from the plan of Jesus Christ, the holy author of our religion;" the insertion was rejected by the great majority, in proof that they meant to comprehend, within the mantle of its protection, the Jew and the Gentile, the Christian and Mohammedan, the Hindoo and Infidel of every denomination.”
-Thomas Jefferson
Remember, a large chunk of the founders were not Christians; many were Deists and even a few Atheists.
“78% of US citizens claim Christianity as their faith. ... Of the 536 national politicians, 465 (87%) claim to be Christians. 71 (13%) are not Christians. 45 (10%) of those are Jewish. Only 16 (3%) are non Judeo-Christian.”

I also strongly disagree with this statement. It may be true that it polls this way but that is very different from how people really are. I would venture to say that many people counted in that 78% are agnostic or atheist and I would guess that the vast majority of the politicians are atheist.

Now, if instead of going on what people say or think they are we went by their actions I would venture to say that maybe .05-.06% of the population is actually Christian; the rest just say they are and then act in the complete opposite way that a Christian would.

(Report Comment)

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