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Posted on Sat, May 26, 2012 : 3:44 p.m.

Make Memorial Day a day to ask why

By Letters to the Editor

The parades. The flags. The proud men in uniform carrying their weapons like trophies. There will be cookouts and sales. Eat. Buy. Talk of sports, kids and the weather. Nothing serious. Don’t spoil the day. Don’t upset anyone.

I’m a Vietnam veteran and I’d like to see Memorial Day be a day for dialogue on issues that really matter.

Why are weapons our No. 1 export product? Why do we have over 700 military bases in over 140 countries? Why do almost half of our tax dollars go to the war industry? Why do we cheer when the government assassinates someone? Why do we think we are better than the rest of the world? Why are we so afraid? Why don’t we know our history? Why don’t we talk about “difficult” things?

So, while you’re grilling your hot dogs or standing at the parade, bring up an issue, and engage in dialogue. The children and this country are depending on it. Make Memorial Day a day to ask - Why?

Arnold Stieber
Grass Lake



Tue, May 29, 2012 : 8:53 p.m.

No offense Arnold, but when you mention your veteran status in your op-ed, it could be seen as an attempt to establish credence - which would lead to the GoNavy question. In addition, your outlay of what you see as usually accompanying such questions was at least premature at this point (particularly since your response did not answer the question). Using the Ron Paul "700 bases" and arms exports claim didn't help much either

Arnold Stieber

Tue, May 29, 2012 : 2:06 p.m.

To GoNavy, I found your comment interesting. It is ususally made by someone who supports violence/war as a method of conflict resolution - "There's no other way", or "Sometimes you have to". When they encounter a military veteran who speaks out against war/violence, they typically try to disparage the vet by asking about their military experience. The implication is that if you were not in combat, then you're not really a "real vet" and thus have no creditability. I've met guys who never left base camp in VN, and were deeply affected. I've met guys who were in combat everyday in VN, and were deeply affected. I've conversed with the longest held POW in VN - he's a member of Veterans For Peace. I've found the most ardent supporters of violence/war are the ones who never had to live with the reality of killing and/or never had the courage to explore the history of this country. Whether I was in combat or not, in the military of not - I believe war is the barbarian solution to conflict. I believe war is like slavery, and I believe the world is slowly waking up to this reality. My mantra is - If you have to hurt someone to solve a problem, you are the problem.

Bob Krzewinski

Mon, May 28, 2012 : 2:26 a.m.

As a US Navy veteran (1973-1977) and people talk about those in the military who have "given their time and lives to defend our freedoms" I think of the words of U.S. Marine Major General Smedley Butler, one of the most decorated members of the military ever. He stated "I spent 33 years and four months in active military service and during that period I spent most of my time as a high class muscle man for Big Business, for Wall Street and the bankers. In short, I was a racketeer, a gangster for capitalism. I helped make Mexico and especially Tampico safe for American oil interests in 1914. I helped make Haiti and Cuba a decent place for the National City Bank boys to collect revenues in. I helped in the raping of half a dozen Central American republics for the benefit of Wall Street. I helped purify Nicaragua for the International Banking House of Brown Brothers in 1902-1912. I brought light to the Dominican Republic for the American sugar interests in 1916. I helped make Honduras right for the American fruit companies in 1903. In China in 1927 I helped see to it that Standard Oil went on its way unmolested. Looking back on it, I might have given Al Capone a few hints. The best he could do was to operate his racket in three districts. I operated on three continents."


Mon, May 28, 2012 : 3:06 a.m.

Feel somewhat sorry for you Bob. Old Smedley died in 1940. He might have a slightly different opinion had he lived just another five years to ask the Polish, the Czechs, the Chinese, the French, the Dutch, Brit Commonwealth, and of course, the Jews. USA 1978-1981 OEF 2001-2002

Boo Radley

Sun, May 27, 2012 : 10:09 p.m.

Mr. Stieber, You have my sincerest appreciation and admiration for your service in Vietnam. Thank you However, I will not be thinking of any of those things on Memorial Day, nor asking any of those questions ... maybe some other time. On Memorial Day I will be thinking of all of the members of the US armed forces who have given their lives in defense of our country. I will say a prayer for their families, and I am humbled by their sacrifices.


Sun, May 27, 2012 : 2:26 a.m.

Weapons as our number one export? Nope, that belongs to fuel, aircraft, motor vehicles, vacuum tubes, and telecommunications equipment.( Mr. Stiebe misleads people by saying we have 700 bases. Those are not bases as people generally conceive of them, but anything from tiny electronics/surveillance outposts to enormous naval bases. We have so many because we are an de facto empire and have been so since 1945. We are an empire because it benefits us financially. A better question is why are people so oblivious to the fact that we are an empire?(Granted, an informal one.) Actually, in fact we have always been an empire. Think Manifest Destiny, The Indian Wars, the Mexican War,the American-Phillippine War, etc. Why, this country was created by the offspring of empire, colonists. I am willing to bet Mr. Stieber has never pondered American history beyond what some libertarian website has told him. What he thinks is a recent trend is actually another line in the continuum of aggressive expansion of American "interests". We are the 21st Century Rome and Britain.My question to Mr. Stieber is how can he have he temerity to question others of their knowledge of history when he exhibits a lack of knowledge of the subject himself? I don't cheer when we assassinate someone, but I won't lose any sleep over it either. Why are we afraid and why do we not talk about difficult things? Hmm, I can't answer that because I am not afraid and I am more than willing to talk about "difficult things". On this Memorial Day I would like people to remember that America is the worst country in the world--except for all the rest. Frankly, I don't understand why so many Americans are so self-loathing? I'm not a flag waving jingoist who calls the US an "indispensable nation" like Madeleine Albright did, but nor am I the left wing zealots who protested loudly when Noam Chomsky said the US was a great nation.


Sat, May 26, 2012 : 9:57 p.m.

Mr. Stieber- You mentioned you were a Vietnam veteran. My question is, were you a combat veteran, or were you simply in Vietnam while serving in the armed forces?

Stephen Landes

Sat, May 26, 2012 : 9:38 p.m.

Mr. Stieber: All the questions you ask are good ones, but in my opinion Memorial Day is the wrong day to ask them. Why? Because in our country the military doesn't decide when or where to go to war -- they do what all of us through our representatives ask them to do. I would not do anything on Memorial Day to diminish the sacrifices of our "best and brightest" for doing what they swore an oath to do. That said, I recommend that everyone eligible to vote do two things: 1) VOTE!, and 2) ask themselves your questions before going into the voting booth and use the answers you come up with to help guide your voting decisions.