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
The bomber jets flying in the sunny
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.