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David Hegg: We need to change perspective

Posted: May 25, 2014 2:00 a.m.
Updated: May 25, 2014 2:00 a.m.

While I was not yet living when it was fought, World War II has shaped so much of the world in which I have lived. It framed the whole idea of valor and courage and sacrificial service. And it wasn’t only those who served in uniform who experienced the war, and felt that they played a vital part in bringing about a good and swift conclusion to it. In truth, we were a nation at war. Soldier and civilian were on the same team, working for a common goal, with mutual respect and honor.

But something dramatic happened in America, and it was intertwined with the tragedy that was Vietnam. A radical breach occurred between soldiers and civilians. Those who served in uniform fought the war, while those whose lives went on unchanged sat back and critiqued them. Perhaps it was the drastic change in how war was perpetrated, or maybe it was the lack of a clear strategy of victory, or maybe it was a hundred other reasons, but in the end it became clear. We were not a nation at war, but rather a nation with some who had the unfortunate responsibility to be at war.

That distance remains today, between those who step into harm’s way and those who are protected by their service. Today, many men and women are at war, wearing American uniforms, enduring painful living situations while dodging bullets, bombs, and improvised electronic devices. And, while we thank them for their service when they come home and we see them in the market, we no longer really feel what they feel when they are at war.

We sit and watch news footage of a few soldiers here and there, but it seems more like a video game than reality.

We are becoming a nation that watches war, but doesn’t experience it. And while being preserved from the terrors of modern warfare may have many benefits, there is one tragic side effect. The truth is that, while we “thank them for their service” we are in danger of losing any sense of what that service actually entailed.

Today we remember those who died while fighting the wars that threatened our country and our way of life. We honor those who gave what Abraham Lincoln described as the “last full measure of devotion.” And it is right and good that a day is set aside to do so.

But even more important would be a concerted effort on our part to once again become a nation that is at war, whenever the hell of war is pressed upon us. Let’s not send our men and women into combat and think that we need not send our hearts and minds, our thoughts and prayers with them. Let us not continue to be a nation of spectators, or worse, a nation that ignores the reality that wars are fought by those who are our fellow-citizens, who take part of us with them every time they put on the uniform.

If Memorial Day is a time to remember, let it also be a day to reinvigorate the whole idea of memory in us all. For anything to be remembered, it first must be experienced. To rightfully remember those who die in service to our country in the future we must be a nation that is one with them today. May this Memorial Day Weekend find us intent on not only thanking them for their service, but standing with them, and praying for them, in the midst of the battle.

David Hegg is a senior pastor of Grace Baptist Church and a Santa Clarita resident. “Ethically Speaking” runs Sundays in The Signal.


ricketzz: Posted: May 25, 2014 6:35 a.m.

I have long supported reinstating the Draft. Glad the Rev agrees.

tech: Posted: May 25, 2014 8:52 a.m.

Non sequitur. "Draft" only appears in your comment, ricketzz.

emheilbrun: Posted: May 25, 2014 8:56 a.m.

Thanks tech. I thought for a moment that I had missed something perhaps only available with a paid subscription.

ricketzz: Posted: May 26, 2014 6:45 a.m.

If you want more emotional involvement when the country is flexing its muscle, everybody needs some "skin in the game". Perhaps we will be less trigger happy if we might be sending our own kids into the meat grinder, instead of faceless poor people.

I haven't seen a just war in my lifetime; I doubt that will change. Everything we've done has been for pride or plunder. War is a sin.

tech: Posted: May 26, 2014 9:56 a.m.

Now you reveal why you attempted to stuff words in the columnist's mouth, ricketzz. When there was a draft, no doubt you supported draft dodgers.

"War is an ugly thing, but not the ugliest of things: the decayed and degraded state of moral and patriotic feeling which thinks that nothing is worth a war, is much worse. When a people are used as mere human instruments for firing cannon or thrusting bayonets, in the service and for the selfish purposes of a master, such war degrades a people. A war to protect other human beings against tyrannical injustice; a war to give victory to their own ideas of right and good, and which is their own war, carried on for an honest purpose by their free choice, — is often the means of their regeneration. A man who has nothing which he is willing to fight for, nothing which he cares more about than he does about his personal safety, is a miserable creature who has no chance of being free, unless made and kept so by the exertions of better men than himself. As long as justice and injustice have not terminated their ever-renewing fight for ascendancy in the affairs of mankind, human beings must be willing, when need is, to do battle for the one against the other." - John Stuart Mill

CaptGene: Posted: May 26, 2014 3:32 p.m.

I'd support a draft if military service was a requirement for elected office. Any elected office.

tech: Posted: May 26, 2014 5:03 p.m.

That qualification has produced a better class of leadership in our past, CG.

CaptGene: Posted: May 26, 2014 5:43 p.m.


ricketzz: Posted: May 27, 2014 6:16 a.m.

ww2 was the USA and the USSR against Fascism. The USA has since switched sides and the USSR has disintegrated. All we have now to battle Fascism is insurgent underground armies and Putin.

Europe just elected the Tea Party to Parliament. This should be amusing.

chefgirl358: Posted: May 27, 2014 11:01 a.m.

I agree with you both CG and Tech.

tech: Posted: May 27, 2014 7:07 p.m.

"Europe just elected the Tea Party to Parliament. This should be amusing." - ricketzz

Could it be they've decided to defend their culture and retain it?

ricketzz: Posted: May 28, 2014 7:14 a.m.

What about European culture is under attack? Their Divine Right to fear the Roma [Gypsies]? If we are reverting to Nation States I'm glad to be in California.

tech: Posted: May 28, 2014 9:28 a.m.

Why don't you review the elections in Europe and figure it out for yourself, ricketzz?

Indy: Posted: May 28, 2014 12:41 p.m.

CaptGene wrote: I'd support a draft if military service was a requirement for elected office. Any elected office.

Tech wrote: That qualification has produced a better class of leadership in our past, CG.

Indy: George W Bush?

Indy: Posted: May 28, 2014 12:52 p.m.

War is the last chance at a ‘decision’ making process . . . when all other avenues of negotiation and compromise have failed.

In Afghanistan, the religious dominated Taliban rejects the advancement of women based on their ancient religious beliefs.

In Iraq, even though the UN found “NO WMDs”, George W Bush decided to push for war anyway not accepting that result . . . and look what happened there . . . sectarian violence between the two dominate religious fractions that are still killing each other . . . over their ancient beliefs.

In Viet Nam, the decision to combat ‘communism’ using ‘war’ was seen as more expeditious that negotiation that ended up seeing more than 55,000 US dead soldiers with another 250,000 wounded and for what?

In Korea, we were back with fighting communism with an outcome that is still ‘divided’.

In some cases, like WW2, the ‘war’ is brought to us in the bombing of Pearl Harbor . . . where the Japanese were unhappy with US globalism in ‘their backyard’ and thus made their decision to attack the US in complete denial of the strength of our manufacturing base. They ended up paying for that decision ‘big time’.

In any event, war is a failure, it’s a failure to communicate, a failure to compromise, a failure to dismiss ancient beliefs that no longer work, yet we seem to have made little progress in human affairs that would allow other ‘less lethal’ means of coming to agreements that benefit the ‘public’ above and beyond the shortsighted interest of those ‘leaders’ that put their interest above the ‘public interest’.

Building bigger and bigger ‘war machines’ like we do here in the US that inflames smaller nations around the world is admitting that we can’t reach agreements beyond shooting bullets.

And that sadly may be the legacy of mankind . . . before it’s all said and literally ‘done’.

tech: Posted: May 29, 2014 9:41 p.m.

ricketzz: Posted: May 29, 2014 7:18 a.m.

That's BS. Reagan was never a soldier. He made movies.

tech: Posted: June 1, 2014 11:58 a.m.

I'd make an audio recording of the text for you but you've advised that your computer doesn't have speakers.

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