Scott’s Thoughts: What We Owe

“Society can give its young men almost any job and they’ll figure how to do it. They’ll suffer for it and die for it and watch their friends die for it, but in the end, it will get done. That only means that society should be careful about what it asks for. Soldiers themselves are reluctant to evaluate the costs of war, but someone must. That evaluation, ongoing and unadulterated by politics, may be the one thing a country absolutely owes the soldiers who defend its borders.”

Sebastian Junger, American author, journalist and documentarian, from his book War

Image of Arlington National CemeteryOnce again we come back to work after Memorial Day. A three-day weekend comes to a close. Or should I say once again we’re so fortunate to come back to work after Memorial Day? So fortunate that we have our health and the freedom to return to our work-a-day lives?

For many, Memorial Day is not “national BBQ day.” It’s not a holiday dedicated to getting a good deal on a mattress or new car. And it does not simply herald the start of summer. While I hope everyone was able to enjoy the day with friends and family, I also have in mind those families who have only the memory of a loved one on Memorial Day.

What Sebastian Junger says in the above quote about what we owe our soldiers is true. We owe our soldiers as thorough an understanding as possible about the costs of war and the sacrifices made in our name. It is too easy an out for us to wave flags and pay lip service. We should pay sustained attention to the soldier’s experience.

With this in mind, I’d like to offer you four excellent opportunities to experience the soldier’s point of view in their own words. Below are four collections of poetry written by veterans, both from Iraq and Vietnam.



Let us never forget exactly what we owe.


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