Throughout human history, young men and women have been the fodder for war. Whether they volunteered or were drafted into service, they have bravely and loyally followed the orders of presidents, commanders, kings, queens and warlords.
While we should not question the courage, sacrifice and patriotism of those combatants, it is appropriate to seek justification for the conflicts in which they participate. Some soldiers have fought to defend their country or to expel those who occupied their homeland while others have struggled in the service of invaders, engaged in a campaign based on imperial, political or religious zealotry.
Today, we honor those who served in America's wars, from the Revolution to Afghanistan. Many lie entombed in military and civilian cemeteries throughout this country and across the globe, most having died in their late teens or twenties and many having died in vain. Among those who survived the atrocities of combat, most have returned with some degree of physical injury or mental torment that will haunt them (and their loved ones) for life. Hopefully, we humans will soon evolve beyond the need to enlist soldiers to resolve our disputes.