Posted by: wegottobefree | February 22, 2009

Patriotic Essay

We were forced to write an essay for this contest in history class on how veterans have directly benefited us. This is what I wrote.

How has the service and sacrifice of veterans benefit today’s youth? I feel this is a leading question designed to encourage blind pseudo-patriotism.  I feel that I am expected to say that veterans have kept me safe from terrorism and that by risking their lives, my life is free. I imagine that most of my fellow students have written essays along this theme. Not because they really and truly believe it, but because they think it is expected, and they think it is easy.

Have today’s youth really from out country’s willingness, even eagerness, to rush to war? I would submit there has been no war that this country has been involved in since World War II that we should have fought. Because there was a draft, soldiers had no choice in fighting the Korean War and Vietnam War. Once there was no draft, however, soldiers volunteered to fight the wars our government became involved in. In Croatia, the Balkans, and both Iraq wars, soldiers signed up to go. I think a good percentage of these soldiers didn’t join the army to protect my freedom. They joined because the army was willing to pay for college; they joined because they had little or no opportunities in their home town. Perhaps if they hadn’t been so quick to join, the government couldn’t raise an army for any violent conflict that suited their interest at the time, we wouldn’t be nearly as bankrupt as a nation, and heavily indebted to countries like China and Japan.

As long as there are countries separated by boundaries, as long as there  are people all too eager to kill in the name of their God, as long as there are limited resources and too many people fighting for these, there will be wars. In order for government to fight wars, they need soldiers. In my lifetime there have been a number of wars fought on foreign soil by our soldiers. The government tells us fighting these wars helps protects me and keep me free. I would argue many of these wars, especially the war in Iraq, with the billions of dollars poured into aiding sectarian violence and civil war in another country, has contributed nothing to my well being. If anything, it has made the world a markedly more dangerous place to live, inciting terrorism and encouraging hatred.

This is not to say there are some wars that we must fight. When governments practice systematic genocide of their people, it is essential that we must intervine. When countries rise up to take over other countries, such as Germany during World War II, we have no choice but to fight for those countries and our own.

But the cost is great. We pour billions of dollars in defense spending that could be spent fixing our crumbling infrastructure, building up our education system, seeking alternative sources of energy, and exploring outer space. Instead, wars are fought for political gain and to satisfy the agenda of those in power, at great cost to the population at large.

Sadly, we live in a world that still needs guns and bombs. I wish it wasn’t so. Imagine a world with no countries, no boundaries, no religous wars, and no millions starving while a select few live in luxury. You may say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one.

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