Have a Non-Military Christmas
by Laurence M. Vance
by Laurence M. Vance
Are you having a merry Christmas or a military Christmas?
Most Americans will be having a merry Christmas this year. Families will get together, trees will be decorated, lights will be hung, gifts will be exchanged, children will get the latest toys, eggnog will be served, cookies will be baked, massive amounts of food (and spirits) will be consumed, employees will receive a paid day off, parades will be marched in, Christmas movies will be watched, churches will be attended, carols will be sung, the biblical Christmas story will be read.
Some Americans, however, will be having a military Christmas this year. Even if they partake of some of the above activities, they will still be having a military Christmas. This is for one of two reasons. It could be because families are separated due to someone in the family being in the military and deployed overseas. But it could also be that someone is no longer in the family because he or she was killed fighting in Iraq or Afghanistan. Almost four thousand U.S. soldiers have died in Iraq and almost five hundred have died in Afghanistan.
Both of these situations could have and should have been prevented from happening.
Every year at this time, and especially every Christmas since we invaded Iraq, we hear much ado about how U.S. troops overseas are lonely, how they miss their families, how they have to spend Christmas away from home, and, of course, how the troops are making our Christmas celebrations possible by keeping us safe from terrorism and defending our freedoms.
I am not moved.
U.S. troops have absolutely no business overseas, period. They should not be fighting in Iraq, drinking beer in Germany, or playing golf in Okinawa. Everyone in the military joined voluntarily, knowing that he might be deployed overseas. Yet, even in the midst of an unpopular debacle of a war in Iraq, over 181,000 people still joined the military this past year.
What we don't hear much about this time of year is the emotional pain and heartache felt by parents, grandparents, spouses, siblings, and children who have to suffer through a military Christmas because one of their loved ones is either thousands of miles away or dead — courtesy of the U.S. military.
One thing we certainly never hear about is the grieving loved ones of all the foreigners we have killed in their own country. The Marine Corps Toys for Tots program distributes toys as Christmas gifts to needy children in communities all across the United States. Too bad no toys are distributed to the children of dead Iraqis. Just like no toys were ever distributed to the children of dead Vietnamese.
The tragic thing about a military Christmas is that it is so unnecessary. None of our troops should be deployed on foreign soil. None of our troops should be killed fighting a foreign war. My heart goes out to those families who have lost loved ones fighting this senseless, immoral war in Iraq. They will forever have a military Christmas. I realize that the best we can hope for is that no one else in America has to suffer through a military Christmas. But that is infinitely better than the current situation of a deadly war and troops stationed in 159 different regions of the world.
I wish you a non-military Christmas.
December 25, 2007
Laurence M. Vance [send him mail] writes from Pensacola, FL. He is the author of Christianity and War and Other Essays Against the Warfare State. His latest publication is War, Foreign Policy, and the Church. Visit his website.
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