On Veterann's day I express my thanks for my freedom. We are always admonished that we should express gratitude for those who sacrificed by serving in the Armed Forces so that we could enjoy our freedoms. I am a sort of a veteran myself. I was drafted with the idea that I would be sent to Viet Nam, but by the time I had finished basic training and done some on the job training at White Sands Missile Range, the war was winding down, so I was never sent and I spent my time at White Sands learning how terribly corrupting a government job can be, and usually is. It was for me, and for almost everyone I knew. Nevertheless, I am grateful for those who really did sacrifice, even though, I suspect, for many, as for me, the sacrifice was not entirely voluntary.
It is, of course, quite a different story for many who served in WWII. My father, and I suspect many others of our soldiers, volunteered before they were drafted. Dad was rejected, and ever afterwards felt so about it. In a sense, he served because he was involved in the war crimes trials after the war. Of course, WWII was quite different from Korea or Viet Nam or Iraq today, in the sense that we got militarily involved only after we had been attacked. One hopes that the books stating that Roosevelt set up the attack at Pearl Harbor so we would get involved are untrue.
The fact remains, however, that we lost as much in the way of freedom from most of our wars as we gained, if not more so. Nevertheless, we should be grateful for what we have, and I am.
Adam Smith, after going on The Grand Tour of Europe reported that the people in every country were proud of their freedom, but that they really did not understand it very well. I suspect that that is true of us today. We look back on the conditions in most of those countries and wonder, "how could they be proud of their freedom? What freedom?" Most of them did not enjoy the freedoms of which we are most proud, i.e. freedom of religion, of speech, and of the press. They, on the other hand, if they could look at our situation, would undoubtedly be aghast at the per cent of our incomes that we give to governments at all levels and would exclaim,"You call that freedom?" They would probably view the enormous amount of governement regulation of our lives and our economy and mutter, "Those people are little better than slaves." The most intriguing question for me would be, "Would they envy our lifestyle or our comparitive wealth?" Some probably would, others would declare it not worth the cost.
At any rate, I am grateful for the freedoms we do enjoy. In future entries, I will explore what it would be like not have those freedoms.