The New York Post
May 19, 2015
On Memorial Day, do we affirm our national faith in the justice of our wars, or honor only the individual sacrifice of those who gave the last, full measure of devotion? How we as a nation answer that question will have profound consequences for our next major war.
More than a century ago, Chief Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes presented as two sides of the same coin our national faith in the rightness of our cause and the selfless dedication of the soldier on the battlefield. He said, “Memorial Day solemnly reaffirms from year to year a national act of enthusiasm and faith. To fight out a war, you must believe something and want something with all your might.”
Today, Memorial Day is most closely associated with the 16 million who served in World War II, our last victorious war. While honor is paid to the 3 million veterans who served in Vietnam, that war is seen as a failure. As for the 2 million who served in Iraq or Afghanistan, those ongoing wars stir more rancor than admiration.
Presidential candidates on the left and the right savage the Iraq War as a monumental blunder. It is now commonplace to proclaim, “I honor the soldier, but not the cause for which he died.”
That distinction ends in defeat. If our nation has lost faith in its cause, why should anyone fight for us?