Memorial Day is an emotionally complex holiday, mixing sadness at the loss and suffering of so many Americans, appreciation for the selfless and patriotic sacrifices made through the generations, and pride and gratitude that we have a country worth the devotion that has been lavished on it by so many.
The day can be a melancholy business at the Thornberry household because my wife's father, a member of the West Point class of 1934, did not survive World War II. I have my own honorable discharge. But my job in the U.S. Navy during the early days of the Vietnam war was to help keep the Viet Cong out of the Mediterranean and the North Atlantic. Hardly onerous duty compared to what so many of my age-mates had to endure, many of whom paid the ultimate price.
More seriously, my shipmates on the destroyer USS Conyngham and I were taking time out of our lives to help keep the commie hordes to the east from overrunning Western Europe. We were there because the political leaders of a by-then recovered Europe had made the choice not to re-arm themselves in any serious way because Uncle Sam had shown a willingness to defend the independence Europeans no longer cared much about.
Considering what the countries of Old Europe have made of themselves, perhaps we should have let the commie hordes have them. The French would have driven the commissars nuts. And the KGB would have had the Islamists shot. But I digress.
Now while honoring the individuals who've died defending America, we must worry about entire American military services being imperiled by left-wing social engineering run amuck. Some of the offenses are simply aesthetic, such as the Navy's intention of naming a cargo ship after union activist Cesar Chavez. (Can the USS Saul Alinsky be far behind?) Others are more serious.
For decades the military services have dealt, with varying levels of success and failure (and a lot of disingenuous PR), with the chaos and lowering of physical standards brought about by the thoroughly post-everything and counter-intuitive notion that women as well as men should be and can be warriors. We've yet to learn how open homosexuals will fit into the intimate, 24-7 military life. And somehow American combat units manage to perform well even while being obliged to play Mother-May-I with gaggles of JAG officers who second-guess their every move.
The latest frontier in the sexual correctness over mission obsession is Navy Secretary Ray Mabus's intention of assigning women sailors to super-crowded submarines. Submarine crew members live and work so much in each other's back pockets that they must pass psychological exams to determine if they can deal with the closeness. Left ideologues wishing to assign women to submarine duty may as well go the little distance left and assign men and women sailors to the same bunks.
While the country is still celebrating the success of Navy SEALs in sending Osama bin Laden to hell where he belongs, we learn that Mabus, a former naval officer himself but now little more than a courtier, is considering endangering this elite of the elites branch by obliging them to accept women members.
Can he really mean it? Or is he just keeping the left happy by teasing them with this absurdity? I've seen Mabus' picture. He doesn't look like a fool. And he's from Mississippi where there are many sensible people.
"It's my notion that women should have the same opportunities as men in the Navy," Mabus told the Navy Times. He added that the only reason he has a teensy hesitation in opening up SEAL training for women is, "some of the physical things you've got to go through to be a SEAL."
Ya think? Anyone who wishes to water down the physical side of SEALs' training and missions to a level where Demi Moore actually could be a SEAL is in the total grip of leftist ideology. And anyone in a position of power to make this part of the NOW wish list national policy is as big a threat to America's security as a foreign enemy.
Civilian control of the military is absolutely necessary in a democratic republic. But this sort of nonsense should remind Americans that it's vitally important which civilians we put in control. Both political parties in America have saddled our military with too many political and social work deployments (see Haiti), and have treated the services as clay to mold in the shape of their own political and cultural phantasms.
With the right folks in charge we could honor our troops by recognizing that their only mission is to discourage our enemies from attacking us, and, failing that, to close with and destroy our enemies. There's no room in this stark and absolutely necessary assignment for social engineering. None. Sorry, Demi. Sober up, Ray.
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