We Buried A Soldier Today
by James Glaser
We buried Colonel Curtis Siats today. Colonel Siats was a World War II veteran and to tell the truth I never met the man. After the war he left northern Minnesota and took his family to California to live. He left word that he wanted to be buried in his hometown of Mizpah, Minnesota and our VFW Post was asked to be the Honor Guard. We had a good turn out with W.W.II, Korean, and Vietnam Vets helping out.
Honor Guard duty is a time for those in the detail to remember maybe not the guy getting buried, but those with whom you served and those that died in your war. It is never fun, but it can be a time of remembrance that is good for you. At the grave side ceremony "Taps" are always hard on everyone. The getting together with others from the Post to honor someone is good and one of the reasons that we have the Veterans of Foreign Wars posts in just about every community.
We have about an hour before and after the ceremony where we talk about the man that died or about our own individual war or the next war that America will have. Right now that conversation is on Iraq. No one doubts that we are going to war. Older men worry about their grand kids the younger men worry about their children and any that have stayed in the National guard worry about themselves.
Today some guy wondered about what he had heard that morning. National Security Advisor Condolezza Rice had said that we will be "completely devoted" to reconstruction of Iraq as a unified democratic State. This guy and all the rest of us wondered, what if the people of Iraq didn't want a democracy, after all they have never had one.
I wondered if a country that had directly killed about 150.000 Iraqis and indirectly killed about a half million of their kids, had any right to tell these people what their form of government should be. "We are going to liberate you if you do as we say" That sounds pretty American to me.
One WW II vet said we waited for Germany to take almost all of Europe before we got in the war. He said at least in the Vietnam War our government made up a story about ships getting attacked and in the last Gulf War they gave us that story (false) about Iraqi soldiers stealing baby incubators in Kuwait. He thought that Washington was being more honest this time because we were not making up anything and it is the President's hate of Saddam that is getting us into this war. One man voiced the opinion that this war was a cover for failed domestic problems and some said that war was how Republicans make money.
After the graveside ceremony we had coffee and cookies at the Mizpah town hall and the Colonel's family thanked us. Talking to those in attendance I found that most people were resigned to another war and that old women were very sad that America and the rest of the world hadn't found a better way to solve differences.
Several people remarked that America no longer talks about peace, only War.
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