I never saw combat during my 10 years, 2 months and 11 days active duty service in the U.S. Army. The closest I came were the two times I was called out on alert; November 1979 during the Iran hostage crises and January/February 1980 during the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. I spent a week at my vehicle in the battalion motor pool each time. That is the closest I came to combat.
During my term of service, we invaded Grenada and stationed Marines in Lebanon. I never left the safety of the Continental United States during either deployment. I consider myself extremely lucky. I listened to the Viet Nam vets talk about combat. They talked about bullets flying in all directions, talking to buddies one second before watching them getting blown to bits and a real sense that there was never a safe place to be. There were no "front lines" or "rear areas," the whole country was a combat zone. You could buy it out in the field or on a street in Saigon. One word that was never used in describing what they experienced was "romance" or any other form of that word.
Tonight, it was reported that George W Bush, a man who did everything he could to avoid active duty service in the Armed Forces, never mind serve in combat when he had the chance to, told American service members stationed in Afghanistan he "envied" them and that if he were younger he would be tempted to join them and share in the excitement and romance they were experiencing. The hypocrisy of his statement is galling enough.
Bush may have thought he was channeling Winston Churchill, who graduated Sandhurst, served with Kitchener in The Sudan and served as a war correspondent during the Boer War. There is no doubt that he gloried in combat and was often accused of war-mongering. However, post Hiroshima, Churchill changed his public tone. He became an early proponent of a "United States of Europe" and a strong supporter of the United Nations. He saw both organizations as guarantors of peace. He would write that whatever glory war and combat had in his youth had been torn away be the horrors of modern warfare, particularly nuclear weapons. Bush probably never read that. Then again, he doesn't read.
I would never describe what I never experienced. I have no idea what those who serve and have served in combat feel first hand. I can only read and listen to what they write and say. In that way, I am similar to Bush. However, he seems to feel that he can describe that which he has never experienced, what he did everything in his power to avoid.
A contributor to this site took New York mayor Michael Bloomberg to task for describing the bombing of the Times Square Military Recruiting office as, "an insult to our men and women in uniform." I would submit that Bush's words constitute a greater insult in an endless series of insults and condescension.
By the way, those 10 years, 2 months and 11 days active duty service are exactly 10 years 2 months and 11 days more than Bush or Cheney. I consider that to be an insult as well.