War Heroes Show How Neither Race Nor Ethnicity Matters: Reflections This Memorial Day

May 25, 2012
Written by Janice S. Ellis... in
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Memorial Day is a time to reflect not only on those who have died, but also on the families of those fighting for us today. Photo Credit: veteransflagdepot.com

This Memorial Day weekend, President Barack Obama will once again honor our war heroes at Arlington Cemetery, as will many communities across the nation. It is a great time to not only think of their gallantry, but the common patriotism that existed among them despite their racial and ethnic backgrounds.

As the saying goes, neither race nor religion matters when you are in the foxhole. No doubt, the same applies when one of your fellow soldiers is in harm's way.

And family members left at home, when loved ones are sent to far-away places in the name of freedom, national security, and humanity, make similar sacrifices and share the experience on the same levels of anxiety in anticipation of their safe return.

How good it would be if we civilians would remember what soldiers and their families share in common, as we go about our everyday lives.

While we pause to honor our heroes of wars past, we must ask; Are we, the current generations of Americans like the generations before us, prepared for “The War of the 21st Century?” President Obama, Congress, our troops, our nation will need support from all of us.

Despite the official withdrawal of American troops from Iraq signifying an end to active military engagement, we still have Afghanistan and other watch points. The war on terrorism will be a different war. It will be a long fought war. It is a war that will require an attack on multiple fronts, using multiple strategies to destroy an enemy with multiple disguises and scattered in many places.

The profile of our heroes will consist of those fighting in places like Afghanistan but also those who complete successful missions like the one that killed Osama Bin Laden. No doubt, the profile will continue to change as we defeat cyber attacks, overpower a lone suicide boomer on an airplane, a subway car, or a crowded street.

But are the “baby-boom” and the “X” and “Y” generations psychologically prepared for the full ramifications of a far-reaching protracted war against terrorism? Are we prepared to make sacrifices on a scale we thought we would never have to make, possibly sending tens of thousands of our sons and daughters to war, year after year somewhere in the world?

These are questions not to be taken lightly.

On this Memorial Day, it would be good to reflect on the state of war we find ourselves in today, and how our generation and the generations to follow will likely have to be engaged. While the casualties of the war and of the future will hold many similarities to those past, no doubt, they will be fought very differently. They will likely require a resolve that is both similar and different to soldiers in previous wars.

And, again, it is going to take all of us as Americans, irrespective of our race, ethnicity, religious beliefs, or political persuasion — just as the generations before us.

Our grandfathers and fathers who fought in both world wars and the Korean War, and our husbands and brothers who fought in the Vietnam War, all grew up with a sense of obligation to serve and protect their country. It did not matter whether they were black, white, Asian, Hispanic, or otherwise. A sense of patriotism and duty was ingrained in them. Whether they wanted to, not, whether they agreed with the premises of war, or not, being committed to defend America and all it stood for was not voluntary.

Communism was the enemy then. Terrorism is the enemy now.

How do we, the baby-boom generation and the X and Y generations, achieve the best state of readiness in the months and years ahead to be victorious in what portends to be a protracted war? How will we rise to the challenge, as we become a nation of minorities?

This Memorial Holiday, we honor once again our heroes of was as we are fully aware of the wars we must continue to wage to keep America safe, free, and strong.

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