Many members of my family have served in the military over the years. Their service goes back to the Civil War and probably before. I am proud of their service and the service of the hundreds of thousands of Americans who have served.
My father joined the Coast Guard, which became part of the Navy in World War II. All my uncles who were old enough served in other branches. In fact, family members were in every branch of the military. My grandmother had all four sons in the military during World War II. One of the stories she shared with me was her terror during a time when she did not know the location of any of her sons.
There were no war stories in our home as I grew up. My dad did not talk about that time in his life except in broad generalities. After his death, my son discovered a book written by one of his shipmates. It was a revelation to all of us. The author related the heavy fighting encountered in the Pacific. My dad was mentioned by name in one description of the ship, the USS Cambria, being attacked. He saw a great deal of war.
My dad was a very gentle person and I know the war took a toll on him as, I am sure, it did and does on most who serve.
I am struck by the gravity of the decision to send people into war knowing that lives will be lost and those who serve will pay a price unimaginable to those who were not there. And since World War II, what has been gained by the sacrifice of so many of our fellow Americans?
The recent flippant reference to sending 100,000 soldiers into a conflict with Iran frightens, saddens and appalls me. Soldiers are human beings with people who love them. They have great potential, aspirations and so much to contribute. To speak of them almost as a commodity is horrifying.
There have been times when war was unavoidable but now, even our allies who have access to all the facts and information believe there is little or no cause to build tension in that area. As we feel and show our gratitude to those who serve and who have served, we must consider the cost.
My dad always said that those who saw the horror of war don’t want to talk about it. I am certain he would add that they would not send others to war unless it was absolutely unavoidable.
To those who serve and have served, thank you for your service.
Jane Gies is a Leavenworth Times columnist.