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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Memorial Day 2007

I’m just old enough to actually remember a time when large elements of the American male population had died or risked death in uniform, and just young enough to have legally avoided military service myself. I was lucky, while many of my Vietnam-era peers weren’t, and part of the emotion properly felt on Memorial Day has to do with the recognition of young men and women who wound up in the wrong place at the wrong time, and paid the ransom for the good luck the rest of us enjoyed. Life and death in modern war are rarely a simple matter of skill or courage; brave individuals often die with no opportunity to actually face their enemies. That was true in the trench warfare of World War I; the Total War of World War II; the jungle war of Vietnam; and the shadow war in Iraq. And that is why in modern war, the System–the government, the generals, the war plans, and the war aims–are so culpable for unnecessary deaths when they occur.So it is entirely appropriate on Memorial Day to remember not only the sacrifices of Americans who died for their country, but to remember the specific reasons they died, and the leadership, good and bad, that sacrificed them, and is sacrificing them today.

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