Comparing and Contrasting Eras

Wars Are Never The Same

One of the most rewarding things I have done in my life was serving on the board of the National World War Two Museum in New Orleans. My thoughts are with them today as a hurricane pounds the city. I think they will be okay.

You never know how certain things will affect you when you are involved with the museum. I had the privilege of meeting the Doolittle Raiders, Jerry Yellin, Medal of Honor recipients like my old friend Walt Ehlers, and all kinds of famous people from the era. I also met average people from the era who just served, like Irwin Stovroff.

Yellin told me the story of flying the last sortie of the war in Japan. He lost his wingman in the mission. It was an unnecessary mission where the commanding officers could have thought better of executing on an order, but didn’t.

The Museum is an amazing place and you must visit in person. It’s that great. Times and people have changed a lot since WW2. I can’t imagine what it would have been like back then if politicians were tied at the hip to what was said on Twitter like they are today.

One time, the museum had an exhibit dedicated to Bob Hope. I knew a bit about Hope and his entertainment career. But, I didn’t know what was in this letter. Here is a photo of the letter a father wrote to Hope about his son. Read it. We should never forget letters like this or the people that are described in them.

Very few of the GIs on that island survived their secret mission. Hope later visited some wounded and when he found out where they were from was rendered speechless. Hope was rarely speechless, especially when he was “on” in front of GIs. That visit affected Hope deeply.

The father was grateful. His son got to experience a little bit of home prior to his death. The flight to this island was very difficult and harrowing. Hope could only take a skeleton entourage. The military brass asked him to do this special performance, and he did.

War is always sad. Death happens. But, some deaths are unnecessary. I am reminded of that when I look at this photo.

I empathize with the Mom who blames Biden for killing her son. Contrast her feeling to the father who lost a GI in WW2. Very different because the situations were so different.

In his speech to the nation on the withdrawal after the 13 were killed, President Biden trotted out the memory of his son Beau. Let us get some things straight. First, Beau was a lawyer, not a combatant. Second, Beau died of cancer, not the inept mismanagement of superior officers with the buck stopping at the President. I have empathy for the President losing a son. I have no empathy for an incompetent President that cannot make a good decision or surround himself with people who can execute and make good decisions that save human lives.

Often people wrap themselves in the flag and they do it for political theatre. Biden tried to do that in his speech and he should be called out on the carpet for it. (Original post said Sen Duckworth wasn’t wounded in battle but on a training mission. I was incorrect and regret the error.)

We toss that word “hero” around casually today. Too casually. Spend some time with Medal of Honor recipients as I have and you might agree with me. I knew what a hero was before I met them, but they really put a fine point on it for me. I am grateful for them and what they represent.

I don’t think there are too many people that think America and its allies should have stayed 20 years in Afghanistan. But, I also don’t think there are too many people who think the withdrawal has been executed with precision and to preserve human life. It was reckless and spur of the moment.

The fecklessness is sad since it involves humans who are citizens and allies of our country. Already, the victors in Afghanistan are assassinating troops and people that helped the allies.

We talk a great game in America about remembering the service people who died for our country. But, we ought to also remember the stupid decisions made by the people who lead them. Those leaders ought to pay a high price for stupid decision-making, sooner rather than later.

Ask yourself; if you were the parent or spouse of a person serving in the military today do you have the confidence that your person is being led by the right people that will make decisions in the best interest of your beloved?

I have always found that getting rid of people today rather than waiting until tomorrow is a good decision. That is true even if the next in line doesn’t seem up to the task, or if you just have a blank space for a bit. If they don’t measure up, you can get rid of them quickly too.