It's Rememberance Day here, Veterans' Day in the U.S. of A. As per every year, my thoughts are scattered; since 2003, of course, it's between Iraq - and a hard place.
Like Edwin Starr, I think war is fucked up, rarely benefits average humans, always profits those who are in no danger of getting into the line of fire.
On the other hand, though, I do feel having an army is necessary, and I do feel the need to think of our soldiers, help them any way we can, take care of them as a country, as people, as some of the bravest citizens we have.
But their duty is to defend the homeland. Against potential assaults (for now), against the eventual assaults of our enemies, and our now-allies, should they become enemies.
They have to defend us against invasion, but also protect our lives, our infrastructures, our resources, our water, our melting Northern territories that will soon unveil water passages and be rich in minerals.
And in times when none of that is happening, they can also help out in other respects - clearing the snow off Toronto's streets (ha!), or when they helped out the whole province during the Ice Storm of '98.
It's as important to have them here as it is to support them; having them elsewhere should always only be for a limited time, never more than 6 or 9 months at a time (per mission, for the whole country, not per person) - because their main duty is to the homeland.
While half of my uncles are cops, my grandfather was in the military; he didn't lose any limbs, and only came back from a war with alcoholism, which wasn't all that new in his case, just more severe. But as he came here, October 1970 came along and he followed orders: he was forced to confront people he shared opinions with and arrest them, then lock them up.
And he did it because it was his job; he didn't agree with his boss (the Prime Minister), and he almost fully agreed with the protesters (maybe not with the most extreme of them planting bombs in mailboxes, though), but he felt that if he did his job to the letter like a stand-up man, that if those he supported politically ever came to power, it would serve as proof that he would do everything he could to stand by them as well. It was a show of civil duty and civic pride.
It's people like him we have to celebrate our military for, not the wars they were in, the politicians who forced them to be there, the targets they destroyed, or the fuckers who act liek animals and ruin the rest's reputations.
Proud, stand-up people respectful of the authority figures on our home soil; strong, dedicated people who will stand in the line of fire to protect the rest of us even if one order they're following makes them tick; professionals trained to defend us with whatever they have on hand.