Respect. It's a word not often heard much these days- particularly when it comes to politics and especially those chicken hawk politicos who have personally never gone to war yet nevertheless support, defend and fund America's wars. They deserve our distain.
But there are a class of people who deserve the utmost respect. They are American veterans who have spoken up and come out against war. Except for a few most are not directly in politics.
Considering the way we publically extol today's people in the military these veterans don't see themselves as "heroes". Yet they know war first hand, up close, ugly, wretched often evil way America conducts its wars.
Many (most?) enlisted as old fashioned patriots particularly after 9/11 when they saw what they believed to be an attack on America and they wanted to do their part in what they thought was defending their country.
Read Chris Hedges recent piece, "The Lie of Patriotism"  -a must read- and the interviews he conducted with a few of these veterans who have come out against war.
Here's an excerpt. As one put it, " A lot of soldiers who've come back from war see themselves as anything but a hero. To throw that term around loosely is dangerous. It's a way to manipulate soldiers. It buys their silence."
"Soldiers are not encouraged to talk about the realities of war when they come back. They're labeled a hero or warrior. That's a major problem. It leads to further seclusion, isolation with soldiers. We talk about the suicide rates amongst veterans-22 a day. It's because we're not allowed to talk about what we saw overseas, how unjust it was, how we feel like bullies. How many innocent people have been killed since 9/11? Throwing out words like 'heroes' does a disservice to the experience of veterans and all the innocent people that have been killed since then".
Read Nick Turse's "Kill Anything That Moves"  where his investigation of the Viet Nam war revealed the My Lai massacre wasn't a one time occurrence led by a crazed Lt. Calley but an everyday occurrence where the indiscriminate killing of innocent Vietnamese was often the norm.
The indiscriminate killing of innocents continues today in America's wars whether its army regulars following orders, special ops guys or CIA trained proxy mercenaries paid to do the killing. Nothing has changed.
In fact if you go all the way back before WWII in 1935 retired Marine Major General Smedley Butler gave a speech and later wrote a book titled "War is a Racket"  . Here's a few excerpts.
"War is a racket. It always has been. It is possibly the oldest, easily the most profitable, surely the most vicious. It is the only one international in scope. It is the only one in which profits are reckoned in dollars and losses in lives. A racket is best described, I believe, as something that is not what it seems to the majority of the people. Only a small 'inside group' knows what it is all about. It is conducted for the benefit of the very few, at the expense of the very many. Out of war a few people make huge fortunes"
"I spent 33 years in the Marines, most of my time being a high class muscle man for big business, Wall Street and the bankers. In short, I was a racketeer for Capitalism".
Today we see and hear nothing from our corporate MSM that recognizes the words of Butler or from today's veterans against war.
Our corporate media has become a complicit handmaiden for America's wars-all part of the "official" propaganda indoctrination coupled with fear induced scare mongering against "enemies"- al Qaeda terrorists, earlier Communists we must fight everywhere but now domestically to include immigrants and minorities.
Meanwhile professional sports organizations, particularly football and baseball have joined in the phony "heroism" with members of the armed forces spotlighted in the stands during time outs or 7th inning stretches, flags waving on Jumbotron scoreboards while playing "God Bless America", fans standing and clapping, TV broadcasters calling them out as "heroes", with people thanking them for their service-nothing more than a response to assuage their own guilt for not serving.
But it's those veterans against war that deserve to be heard whose voices need to be the most vocal.