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Veterans Day Reflections

By: Soraya Sepahpour-Ulrich


As the antiquated jets pierced the blue Pasadena skies, my head tilted back in surprised reaction to their loud blare; my trail of thought interrupted by the pilots who wanted to remind us of their fallen comrades; asking us to salute those brave souls who gave their lives for this country.  It was Veterans Day and the morning's ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery broadcasted on television had sent me into a deep and sad trance.


The warm comfort of the sun made a brave effort to stop the penetration of somber thoughts, making the futility of war even more evident, Vietnam, Iraq.  I reconnected to my thoughts and I remembered the serious mood of Veterans Day - I also recalled that as I parked the car in front of a metered parking stall, two young girls were joyous at the prospect of saving a few coins - this was a holiday.  The death of thousands had served to save them some change.   


Lost in the news of the day was the President's upcoming trip to Vietnam.  Seven short days after laying a wreath in remembrance of the fallen soldiers, 58,000 soldiers sacrificed to the Vietnam War with an untold number missing in action (MIA), George W. Bush was going to fly to Vietnam to attend APEC - The Asia- Pacific Economic Cooperation.   I wondered how many bodies were buried under the rice fields that would be traversed by his plane in the skies overhead.    


The jets flew back in another maneuver as if in response to my question, leaving behind a thin line of smoke; a pale reflection of the blood shed in the name of 'national interest'.  What a mocking reminder that it was those who had sacrificed their lives that it was their blood that had emboldened this president to give the death march to future soldiers in Iraq, Afghanistan, and perhaps Iran?  


With 58,000 casualties in the Vietnam War, this President finds his way to APEC, building bridges and yet he insists on destroying the only real bridge that exists in the Middle East, calling for more headstones at Arlington.


Tom Friedman's opinion of June 2002  in the New York Times "The Best of Enemies?", confirms that Iran is a not hostile to the US.  He wrote that unlike U.S. allies Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the rest of the culprits, the people of Iran were the only Muslim nation that were sincerely sympathetic to America after 9/11.  The candle light vigils held on the streets of Tehran and elsewhere in the country in solidarity with the victims, their families, and the American nation, was testimony to Iran's goodwill towards America; a sentiment which exists today among 70-80 percent of Iranians, according to the latest polls.


In spite of the 1953 coup which toppled the democratically elected government of Mossadeq, the good will towards Americans persists.  Perhaps this is owed to the fact that following the signing of the Tripartite Treaty of 1942 between Iran, the Soviet Union, and England, in which Iran's sovereignty and political independence was guaranteed, when the Soviets were reluctant to leave Iran's Azerbajian province in accordance to the Treaty, United States helped Iran regain its sovereignty. 


While 1953 will not be forgotten, neither can 1946. No doubt, the push for expelling the Soviets from Iran cannot be decoupled from America's own interest; however, it greatly served Iran.  Today, with this reservoir of good will and Iran's propensity for democratizing, the amicable feelings that the Iranian people have nurtured towards Americans over the years should be capitalized on.  Mr. Bush's intransigency should be turned into a positive tool in looking to Iran as the ally that she is without being sidetracked by those around him who wish to bury more bodies under foreign skies.  


The bomber jets flying in the sunny Pasadena sky were roaring in anger at the loss of life not in celebration of war and saving quarters.  There is a 'Presidential Prayer Team' web page with a weekly prayer schedule[i].  If only the President would take with him 'reflections' instead of prayers - maybe less tombstones would be visited at future Veterans Day Ceremonies.



... Payvand News - 11/14/06 ... --

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