Though many questions still remain about the solvency of Iraq’s new democratic regime, our job, for the most part, is complete. The ball is now in the Iraqi’s court to support and defend their own nation and our troops have returned.
After dodging bullets for our freedom and watching comrades fall to the perils of war, I believe American soldiers are owed our support and recognition.
The least we could do is welcome our soldiers home with a celebratory event. We hold parades for champions of all major sport leagues. We hold an annual Thanksgiving Day parade. We hold a parade for Mardi Gras.
Why not for our veterans who put their lives in danger in Iraq? The war in Iraq leaves a bad taste in the mouth of many Americans — its end did not come without precious sacrifices — but this is more reason to celebrate the return of our surviving veterans.
On March 19, 2003, just two days after demanding the surrender of Saddam Hussein, America commenced a new preemptive form of defense strategy by invading Iraq.
According to former President George W. Bush, the people of the US would not live at the mercy of a regime holding weapons of mass destruction.
“We will meet that threat now with our Army, Air Force, Navy, Coast Guard and Marines so that we do not have to meet it later with armies of firefighters and police and doctors on the streets of our cities,” Bush said.
This war was not waged without scandal and controversy, including at our previous president’s adherence to the use of torture. Some claim Operation Iraqi Freedom was a war of hegemony — not liberation.
A 2011 Gallop poll showed 75 percent of Americans approved of withdrawing our troops from Iraq. The only remnants of America’s once enormous military presence in Iraq is America’s largest embassy in the world, which employs about 16,000 people.
According to the Washington Post, 4,474 US service members have died in the war in Iraq. The Lone Star State is among the states with the highest amount of casualties. Unfortunately, 417 soldiers from Texas have passed away. Some would argue that a parade is premature because the job in the Middle East is not finished.
We are still in Afghanistan — though the Obama administration has hinted that our presence there will dwindle in the near future.
And there is still a legitimate threat of Pakistan’s volatility and Iran becoming nuclear. That is a weak excuse, though. Why not have a parade at the conclusion of each war?
Highlighting the efforts of our troops will not hinder US keeping an eye on Iran and Pakistan.
In America we have a tendency to whitewash events in our history where the light is not flattering. But the souls of those who died need neither to be forgotten nor marginalized.
As the old adage goes, don’t ever bite the hand that feeds you. I think it is time to rethink the way we treat those who serve and protect this great nation, because we are insulting those who are the most important to our security. It’s not impossible. It’s not even a hard decision.
To our government leaders, just make it happen. That includes Obama and the derelict members of congress that we elected to protect our interests.
Christopher Shelton is a journalism junior and may be reached at [email protected]