President Barack Obama,
As a veteran of the United States Navy, I’ve always been rather embarrassed by the tributes, etc. which are generally offered to ‘honor’ us. Whenever anyone asks me what I did in the Navy I generally reply (as any liberal, wisecracking, former enlisted man should) that my service was during the Reagan administration; so I was keeping the world safe from Democracy.
What I actually did in the Navy was to maintain the electronics of the four E2-C HawkEye aircraft in my squadron – Carrier Air Early Warning 117 (VAW-117). I was just a very small cog in the most complex weapons system (the carrier task force) that has ever been imagined or organized in the history of the world. Far from my service being a sacrifice: it was a great deal of fun. I traveled to many countries around the Pacific. I had interesting electronic problems to trouble-shoot and repair. I gained priceless experience in systems design and maintenance which were useful to me later in earning my Engineering degree and in my career in Information Technology. And the entire time, I was paid (although not terribly well) to do it.
I have too slowly come to realize just how much truth was in my wisecrack about my service, as the United States has fallen under our self-imposed shadow in the war on Terrorism.
Under the administrations of both President George W Bush and yourself, the United States has abandoned even the pretense of virtuous military action in the world. We have asked our military and Intelligence services to keep us safe at any cost: abandoning all standards of civilized behavior.
We are now the killers of the innocent.
We imprison and torture those we believe may threaten us in any way.
We self-righteously lecture the rest of the world about ‘International Law’, while observing none of these same rules of behavior ourselves. The only true lesson from our behavior now being our own hypocrisy.
The 11th Day of the 11th Month was supposed to represent the hope of the end of war. Please do something, anything; to stop our endless war and reduce the further infamy of our country.
Please stop the murders of our fellow men and women overseas.
Please pardon and release all those imprisoned at the Guantanamo Bay Naval Base and elsewhere.
Please start a truth and reconciliation commission to lay bare the crimes of our country. Only the sunlight of public disclosure can dispel the darkness we’ve been living under for the past 12 years.