Wednesday, April 23, 2008

The War with no sacrifices......until now

I think American may finally get serious about their resolve on the war against terror in Iraq. The reason is that they are finally starting to be some everyday, tangible sacrifices we as Americans are finding as a result of the effort. I've often said that one of the real issues with this war is that the general public has made no sacrifices toward the effort.

If you look at past wars, specifically World War II, the country made incredible sacrifices to support the war effort. Enduring hardship together galvanized people and I think created synergy to make victory happen. I've talked to some of those greatest generation people and in particular discussions I've had with my wife's grandmother who tells incredible and interesting stories about the war years.

In addition to enduring years without her husband who was in Japan and raising a daughter alone she told me the stories of sacrifice of everyday Americans because of the war. Think about not being able to get a new tire for your car not to mention gasoline. Yep, rations. Chocolate? Forget about it. That was a pretty serious luxury. Sugar, flour.....all rationed. I asked her what happened if your car tire was ruined and couldn't be patched? The car sat. Oh, and a new car? You couldn't get one very easily because all the materials were needed for ammo, tanks, planes, etc. Every time they encountered an inconvenience due to the war they were reminded that freedom isn't free or cheap. They were all paying a little bit of the price while their loved ones were paying a huge price.

So in contrast to today's war effort we recently had an Easter where my kid had buckets of candy and chocolate bunnies. We have so many cars they can't sell them all and give us huge incentives to buy them. Baseball? Didn't they stop playing during WWII? Can you imagine? I've already been to several Royals games this year. We've been able to get pretty much anything we want and we go on with life in our merry way talking about the war only in philosophical terms more like a Monday morning during football season second guessing policies like play selection or clock management. That has been pretty much how it has been since the war began. We have been spectators who want to see the war resolved neatly like a hour long TV drama.

That is changing quickly. Gas, while expensive, is really going up now and reports are that we are headed for $4 a gallon. How about staples like flour? The prices are going up like crazy. Consumer confidence is in the toilet. Eggs are over $2 a dozen. Unemployment is high and people are feeling the pain of being at war. The cost of airfare is getting to the point where people are starting to treat it as a luxury was of travel again. People are planning on not going on vacation this summer. The financial cost of the war is felt in a huge deficit and is impacting all of us. What problems could we solve with the money? Good questions but how much will it cost our kids to get their freedom back if we forfeit it because we thought it was too expensive now? If we are wrong they will ask us why we left them huge bill to pay. If we are right and this threat is indeed a monumental challenge to our freedom they will thank us like we thank the greatest generation that we don't all speak German instead of English. We are bearing down. Pain is an important thing. It tells us we need to do something different. It is our body's natural warning system and we generally try to find ways to avoid pain.

The question is will we respond the same way the greatest generation did? Will it strengthen our resolve? Will we view it as part of our price to pay for our freedom and the ongoing freedom of our children? Will we share in the sacrifice? I hope so. I look at my wife's grandmother and I try to imagine what she thinks about the cavalier way we've lived while our guys are over their fighting. At a minimum I hope people will understand that the price isn't just paid by our service guys. We all start paying now and frankly it is about time we all understand it.

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