A broad chasm separates us who have not served in the armed forces or served in times of peace from the combat veteran. We can only intellectualize what he has experienced: the fear of immediate death; the horror of obliteration of flesh, bones, and sinew; the dehumanization of conscience; the numbing constancy of endless combat; the inevitable realization that the longer a combat soldier survives the greater are the odds that he will perish. E. B. Sledge's narration of his World War II marine experiences on Peleliu and Okinawa communicate all of this vividly.
There are those in public office that refuse to stand at the edge of this separation of experience, that view Americans in uniform as expendable instruments of ideological, unilateral policy. Standing with them too ofter are the malevolent, the deluded, and the disinterested. Apart from them are the rest of us. We must heed our veterans' experiences and make our voices heard.