As a veteran of the United States Navy (1964-1970), I greatly disagree with the cruel, illogical and careless thinking expressed by Virginia Pratt in her anti-patriotism letter published in the JP Gazette on May 25, just before Memorial Day weekend.
In her letter, Ms. Pratt denounces military service and suggests that it is dishonorable and a fraud. She said she believes that young men and woman are tricked into enlisting and then taught to fight, to kill, to destroy and to die. She asks, “What is the service that people in the military are giving?”
During my service, while stationed at Whidbey Island Naval Air Station, north of Seattle, I, with many fellow sailors and Marines, volunteered for numerous and difficult search and rescue missions in the wilds of the Cascade Mountains, looking for lost civilians, including hikers, hunters, skiers, campers and children, all of whom would greatly disagree with Ms. Pratt, I’m sure.
I’m sure that the residents of Greensburg, Kan., for whom National Guardsmen came to help after a horrific tornado destroyed their town, would greatly disagree with her, too.
I’m sure that the people of Waycross, Ga., for whom Air Force pilots and crewmen risked their lives to extinguish dreadful forest fires that ravaged their land, would greatly disagree with Ms. Pratt.
I’m sure that those whose lives were saved by Army personnel from the great floods in southwest Texas recently, would greatly disagree with Ms. Pratt.
And I’m sure that the tens of thousands of people liberated from Nazi concentration camps by our military heroes, not by Ms. Pratt’s hero, self-described “racketeer and gangster for capitalism” Maj. Gen. Smedley Butler , would greatly disagree with Ms. Pratt.
The “young people who work in community gardens and ride bikes…” as celebrated by Ms. Pratt, are probably very nice, but respect and Medals of Honor belong to those young people whose names are on Civil War, World War, Korean and Vietnam Veterans Memorials and the headstones of Arlington and other National Cemeteries.
If Ms. Pratt thought more logically and reflected more carefully, she would have realized that her emotions and invectives are more appropriately directed at Commanders-in-Chief with names like Johnson, Nixon, Clinton and Bush, whom I’m sure she respects and honors because they avoided serving.
Ms. Pratt lives in the greatest country that ever was, thanks to those who did serve and sacrifice. Perhaps if she had served, she too would have been all that she could have been instead of the angry and disillusioned person she has become, and I hope someday the meaning of Independence, Patriots and Memorial Day will have meaning for her.
To those who lost their welfare and health and those who lost loved ones so Ms. Pratt and I and our compatriots could stay whole and free by their service, there are not enough words, but we can start with two: Thank you.