Memorial Day begins the summer and I often think about the soldiers I have known or know by proxy.
My great grandfatherEmanuele Guerra who fought in World War One whose hand froze off and who spent the next 30 years recovering from icy trenches and a year in a prison camp in Galicia.
Or my Uncle Phil who entered Europe on D Day in a tank with Patton, and was with Patton when they liberated Ohrsdorf Concentration Camp and who told us kids how much he enjoyed serving. He also taught us never to hate and never to use a racist or bigoted word.
Or my 7th grade history teacher Mr Campbell who fought in Vietnam and introduced me to reflection and doubt who showed me how tough a man could be.
Or my Dad George Bianchi who served in the Air Force, became an officer, and left behind his small beginnings to become a person of service and got to see the world.
In these days when our nation has chosen to fight wars of choice we forget that not all wars and not all causes are suspect.
Be it the soldiers in Spain during their Civil War or the Soldiers of the US Colored Troups or Uncle Phils tank at the gate of a Concentration Camp there are some things worth fighting for.
I think that what makes this war so unsavory is that idealism is being used by powerful and synical men for their ends. The image of this war is not a young Italian American kid from Philadelphia liberating a concentration camp, it is a man in a hood and a pyramid of naked humiliated men. The image is not the US Colored Troops entering Richmond to end the Confederacy's evil rule, but Guantanamo.
There have been some noble moments, Pat Tillman for example but on the whole I keep asking myself why are we involved?
In the end I keep looking for the Nobility of America.
I saw that nobility in New York on September 11th in he person of Fr Mickael Judge who died serving the fire fighters in the World Trade Center, I saw it in the nobility of people working to help those in need in Katrina when the government failed. I yearn for the America of the US Colored Troops, the America of Belleau Wood or Normandy.
I am not a cynic.
I love the flag and I still get excited when I return to the USA from a trip and the customs guard says "welcome home" but I want America to be more, more than a hooded man in a prison.