The troops get a lot of crap. (Gosh, I hate the term "troops". They're soldiers. Can't we just say that?) The soldiers get a lot of crap. A couple of bad apples have made the public's view of the soldiers at war pretty negative (by "public" I primarily mean "of a more liberal view", because regardless of what they do, most conservatives are pretty hardcore for the soldiers). Don't get me wrong, some soldiers are dicks and I have trouble liking them as people, but I do always appreciate them basically taking the bullets for me (and my brother, and father.).
I saw a video where a soldier was laughing after shooting some combatants who had just fired on a group of soldiers. A soldier laughing in exhilaration after killing the people who shot or are shooting at his fellow soldiers is not evil. It's an irrational reaction, but it's not completely impossible to imagine that feeling. The soldier stopped the bad guy. He saved someone. He was called evil, disgusting. I don't know his mind, but I can see how it could have happened.
I keep on hearing about supporting the troops. I think that most people who say it don't really. I'm as happy to see wars end as anyone, but the reality is that war never ends. Ever.
I have heard a lot of people I know speaking recently about how Obama has ended the war in Iraq, ended the combat mission in Iraq, whatever. One thing that strikes me is that this timeline of the reduction in troops was not Obama's timeline. This was the timeline set in place by General Petraeus before Obama was in office. The person people should be cheering is Petraeus. That man is a hardcore, awesome dude. He is one of the few people in the world I truly respect.
Another thing: Ending the "combat mission" does not mean all of the soldiers are coming home. They're still there (whether they're involved in "combat" or not) - training Iraqi soldiers, rebuilding homes and supporting the other soldiers there - whether they're administrative, public affairs, mechanics, or just security forces. They are still in danger, because even if U.S. soldiers aren't attacking anyone, you can bet your sweet ass they're going to get attacked, and so will anyone else who gets in the way of those with violence in their minds and hearts.
Another: Those soldiers coming home may not be coming home to the sweetest welcome. Not only is there still a lot of negativity towards soldiers (Westboro Baptist Church still harasses soldiers' families at their funerals, Code Pink still labels Marines babykillers, and that isn't even mentioning the individuals who spout their vile, acid-coated bullshit at soldiers or about them), but many soldiers will come home with no job, broken relationships, and damage that is not just physical. Some soldiers will be (or have been already) ridiculed for suffering emotional and mental damage from the trauma they experienced.
War doesn't end.
Military bases don't close because "war is over". Soldiers can be deployed to places still dangerous even though we're not "at war", and they're never mentioned on the news. There are plenty of soldiers still in Japan, South Korea, Russia, and not to forget all of the soldiers still in Afghanistan - you know, that other war, the one they only report on when people get killed in spectacular ways?
This kind of war has no victory. We cannot "win" in Afghanistan. We cannot win any war if we can't leave the country behind. We cannot win a war when our own countrymen only care enough about soldiers to pull out the "all of these soldiers are dying!" to blame Bush/Cheney/DOD/Obama or whoever about how evil war is and how we should just "get out". Hell yes, we should get out, but it's not that simple.
I'd love to see a world without war, but that world will never exist. The most we can do is acknowledge the war while it's happening - and realize that we're pretending some wars have ended that may never end. We forget the wars when they're not on television. We forget them when no politician is speaking about them (in favor or against). We forget them when we're not looking at yellow ribbons, pretending that some stupid magnet on our cars actually matters. We forget them until we see a flag on a coffin, and then forget as soon as it's folded.
It is easier to forget than to remember that these men and women are the ones in line of fire. Instead of us. Instead of our families and friends. Their families suffer. They see their fellows die. They have to come home and remember seeing people, real people, dismembered or dead or dying, sometimes from their own hands. It is never easy for them, regardless of what the media and lying politicians will say.
I don't intend to forget ever again.