Viewpoint: Conflicted patriotism

Monday, July 24, 2017 6:56PM

Some time ago, I received an email depicting the consequences of one soldier’s war experience through pictures. Most moving were the photographs that started by showing this young man in a hospital bed with an oxygen mask on and four stumps protruding out from where his arms and legs once were. There were pictures showing his recovery-rehabilitation efforts with his girl friend present supporting him in the exercise programs. Ultimately, she takes on the role of a Sherpa carrying him on her back. Both are seen with smiling faces, his truncated limbs wrapped around her, as she carries him towards the beach. Next comes the fitting and adjustment of four prosthetics, followed by more training and exercise on their use. He is seen walking down the street hand-in-limb with her. Finally, there are shots of the wedding and the two together in abbreviated embrace.

How am I to feel about this young man and woman’s loss? Should I feel what is suggested at the bottom of this series of photographs? That “God has blessed us all, for he has put Marines, Sailors, Airmen and soldiers here to protect what we believe in”? A billboard outside Tyndall AFB in Panama City, Fl. pretty much sums up their military purpose. It reads “Global Vigilance, Reach and Power for America”. That sounds like the military is focused on world dominance more than protecting our freedoms or beliefs. This is supported by the fact that the U.S. maintains over 700 military bases in more than 70 countries and territories abroad, and its budget of $601 billion is greater than the combined military budgets [$578 billion] of China, Russia, Britain, France, So. Korea, India and Japan.

Moreover, I presume the saying “God has blessed us all” is meant to apply to Americans and not those on the other side. But my God didn’t mention any particular country in a blessing. He just said blessed are the peacemakers.

Finally, is there common ground on what Americans believe? In any event, I don’t think these beliefs need military protection. What needs protection are our human treasures and financial solvency. I feel compassion and pity for that man and woman, and for all those we send forth in like manner. I fear we will bankrupt ourselves in providing for the future care for this soldier and others wounded in mind and body trying to protect what we call “our beliefs”. I feel anger that we rationalize these loses under false premises that hide behind patriotic and religious symbols. I feel like a conflicted patriot who loves his country but not what she is doing. We do not need to enlarge a military, which is already the largest on the planet.

Frank Meneghini lives in Peterborough.