On 11 September 2001, I watched in horror as the Twin Towers collapsed. In the decade since that event, I have watched in horror as the country to which I owe so much and love so much has transformed into something I no longer recognize.
A nation once so unified and befriended by most of the world has become divided within and despised from without as an administration fabricated intelligence to justify invading a country which never attacked us. Such an act, if carried out by any other nation, would have resulted in American cries of aggression.
I saw an administration attack and condemn its critics as traitors and defeatists while carrying out policies which did more to undermine the nation than anything any foreign enemy could have devised.
This country would have a president who, having received fewer popular votes than his opponent, preached around the world calling for democracy. The word “hypocrisy” comes to mind.
Since the destruction of the World Trade Center, I saw the number of Americans living below the poverty level increase to over 19% while the wealth of the top 2% has quadrupled. I see the richest country in the world unable to provide its own citizens with basic health care, a benefit available in every other advanced industrialized nation.
I have seen the American economy in recession and those responsible rewarded for their incompetence and greed while the majority of Americans witness their life savings dwindle or evaporate.
I saw the “party of fiscal responsibility” triple the national debt and put the cost of two wars on a foreign credit card for future generations of Americans to pay. That party now insists on reducing care and benefits for America’s poorest so the wealthiest can enjoy more tax cuts. And, in the process of regaining our financial balance, public schools, the very foundation of American democracy, are becoming educational ghettos tasked to prepare students to survive in an unreceptive economy.
Worst, I see my country turning a blind eye to its own acts of torture which resulted in the trial, incarceration, and execution of individuals when committed by the enemy during World War II.
The very basic concepts of morality and ethics have died in America, where cheating is accepted in schools, on Wall Street, in the military, and in government where Congressmen are apparently exempt from the tax rules which apply to ordinary citizens.
The military of a democracy should mirror the demographics of the nation. But the composition of our armed forces today claims few from the elite wealthiest families who have “other priorities.” For the vast majority of Americans, supporting the military is placing a Made-in-China five dollar “Support our Troops” emblem on the family car. And the number of military veterans in Congress is the lowest since the end of World War II.
As I look back and reflect upon the wonderful thirty-two years I spent defending the country I love, I must ask myself whether it was in vain.
Ronald L. Gambolati
Colonel, US Army (Retired)
Since the above view is at variance with traditional opinion, comments would be most welcome, particularly if such comment is supported by reason or fact.