Robert Stein 1924-2014

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Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Veterans Then and Now

In his Ft. Hood eulogy today, the President eloquently honored "men and women answering an extraordinary call--the call to serve their comrades, their communities, and their country. In an age of selfishness, they embody responsibility. In an era of division, they call upon us to come together. In a time of cynicism, they remind us of who we are as Americans...

"Tomorrow is Veterans Day. It is a chance to pause, and to pay tribute--for students to learn of the struggles that preceded them; for families to honor the service of parents and grandparents; for citizens to reflect upon the sacrifices that have been made..."

In one school yesterday, eighth-graders spent the morning with men in their seventies and eighties, trying to reach across the gap of generations to explain what those struggles were like.

For those children, the messages boiled down to a simple narrative: We came because our country needed us, we did what had to be done, even when and especially when we were afraid, and we learned how much we were connected to those who served with us and protected us as we protected them.

The children wanted to know if war had changed us. How could it not? We had learned that we lived a world larger than ourselves and that we had to take government and politics seriously, learn what was going on and take part in the decisions that put us and might in the future put them in harm's way far from home.

As the President deliberates over sending tens of thousands more Americans to Afghanistan, he should be keeping in mind those children and their families as well as those with whom he mourned today.

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