no more avoidable memorials, please

I heard part of a broadcast on public radio yesterday, reporting that a small American town was memorializing, for the first time since the Viet Nam War, a combat death of one of its young citizens. As earlier wars fade from our memory, these are the ones which remain - to haunt us.

On a day when we are remembering the casualties of so many American wars, the loss of hundreds of thousands who made the ultimate sacrifice for the values we believe our society represents, it is beyond tragic to think about these last two major conflicts. They were both huge follies. The Iraq War is increasingly recognized as perhaps more crime than folly. But our leaders say it must still continue.

If we were wrong in putting them out there in the first place, how can we tell them to stay there now?

Twenty-three years after he first asked it, Senator Kerry's question is still not being answered. How do you ask someone to be the last to die for a mistake? Unfortunately Kerry himself is no more forthcoming than the administration whose wars he voted for, and his position sounds something like this: Keep going, but crank it up harder, and get everyone in the world to just go along with it.

While we can talk about the failings of those who sent Americans to Viet Nam or Iraq, nothing can diminish the nobility of those who fell there. And nothing must compromise the support we owe to those currently in danger in the Middle East. Cheer them, give them what they need to survive, but bring them home. Finally, we must ensure that they are honored.

We have failed them. We must not compound the error, regardless of our excuses.

Like all great hearts, they are more dear to us all when they aren't dead.

Let's just bring the heroes home upright this time.