I never really cried as a young man. However, with every passing year and every breath taken, I know more painfully the enormity of the waste. Seventeen years ago, we landed in Afghanistan. Then Iraq. It is 19 years since I joined the Marine Corps. I joined at 19. Twenty veterans or more commit suicide every day, or so they say. I never really knew why I was angry, but I was. I was lucky. For some, the rage takes hold and destroys their heart. Others simply bury it and move on. Some have no outlet for it, and some have no idea what to do with it.
Why was I so angry? You ask yourself this question every day. It doesn’t seem to have any reason. It’s just there, irrational and implacable. Only now can I begin to fathom the depths of human psychology to begin an attempt at an answer.
War is an injustice. No matter what the reason, or how just you believe it to be, war is unjust. A normal human reaction to injustice is rage. The insidiousness of war is that no one is ever guilty. Well, we are. You spend a lot of time apologizing, as a veteran. You apologize to each other for not listening. For not paying attention. For mistakes made and lives lost. For innocent carnage and dead children — you apologize for it all. You apologize to loved ones for how you are; you apologize to people you’ve hurt. A guilt for all the injustice of war. We send our young to die without ever really asking what right do any of us have to do so? These questions are left to the perpetrators and survivors of these acts.
On top of the burden of survival, we also carry that burden of guilt and rage, quietly. Nobody talks about it. Nobody really wants to hear about it. Just come home, be successful. Thank you for your service. Yet as these operations continue to drag, as contingency spirals into contingency, as conflict breeds conflict, this burden grows heavier. Silently, slowly, inevitably, the burden takes its toll.
As we look at our country today, we are confronted with many harsh truths. We are hollowing out. We are at each others’ throats. Conspiracy thinking and irrational anger dominate our politics. Under it all these damnable wars keep festering, corroding our nation, bankrupting our children and grandchildren, splitting us further apart and driving our veterans to suicide. The one thing a sovereign nation cannot do is the one thing this nation must. We must carry this burden together. This nation will carry this burden openly, or it will continue to suffer the corrosive effects of problems we don’t talk about. This Memorial Day, if you can find it within yourself, feel a little less thankful, and a little more guilty.
It isn’t too much to ask.
Philip Sturm, Minneapolis
If it’s truly done well in the majority of settings, show data
In a May 23 commentary (“Most elder care is good, and helpful improvements can’t be rushed”), Josh Berg asserted that most assisted-living and nursing-home settings across Minnesota treat their residents like family and provide a caring environment. We should challenge Mr. Berg to provide the data and methodology he is using for such a claim.
I am at the stage of my life where I am visiting more and more assisted-living facilities and nursing homes to see friends and family. My experience has been more like JacLynn Herron’s experience, described in a commentary published the same day as Berg’s (“Legislature’s inaction triggers nursing home flashbacks”). If the situation is as Berg claims, we should be provided with the data that back it up. His article is devoid of any factual basis for his claims.
Zachary Doering, Minnetonka
Gag rule prevents providers from doing their work
As an OB-GYN and advocate for health care, I feel that it is my duty to respond to “Trump’s new rule targets abortion” (May 19).
The Title X “gag rule” violates women’s ability to access basic health care that can be lifesaving and is a direct threat to women’s standing in our country. Thousands of patients would lose their ability to access safe and needed care through Planned Parenthood, a trusted health care provider that serves 41 percent of Title X patients. The gag rule would also remove guarantees that fulfill a core principle of medicine, which is to have an open and honest conversation with our patients about all their options and making a shared decision together. Everyone deserves to be given accurate and complete information about their health care and referrals to other providers, such as abortion care providers, upon request.
The power to make health care decisions free of political interference is critical to the lives of women, and the gag rule directly threatens the ability of doctors like me to provide full and complete care. I encourage policymakers to stop the rule and focus on initiatives that improve access to health care.
Dr. Sarah Hutto, Minneapolis
In need of more attention
Recently, a good friend returned home to find his bicycle stolen from his own backyard, its heavy-duty lock power-sawed open. An estimated 1.5 million bicycles are taken each year and there has been a mean annual increase of 10 percent in bike thefts nationally. In our immediate family, three out of four have had their bikes stolen at least once.
I’m concerned that more municipalities, lawmakers, bike manufacturers and courts aren’t taking these crimes more seriously. If affordable, miniaturized technologies can help us find our keys and smartphones, why don’t we take bike thefts more seriously? And why are our courts so dismissive about these crimes?
I know more than 35 adolescents and young adults who depend on their bikes to get to school or work, and roughly half that number of adults who do the same. Considering that half of these thefts occur on school or college campuses and adjoining communities, the crime is ageist, too.
Please let your local police, schools and lawmakers know you care about one of the most mean-spirited acts one person can commit against another. Each theft leaves someone potentially stranded, unable to get to classes, to get to work, to find safety or to get home.
And make sure bike thieves, if apprehended, pay full restitution, civil penalties, court costs, attorney’s costs and the value of lost work or class hours with cash and community service. And once and for all, send the perennial bike thieves and their ringleaders to prison, where they belong.
Neil Ross, Minnetonka
Here’s your anthem
Let’s have a football anthem and insist that everyone stand at attention. The first verse, obviously, should be about the love of the game. The second verse, a plea for players to avoid concussion. The third verse, an oath that team names will reflect sportsmanship and athleticism, not denigrate cultural or ethnic groups, and, finally, a shout-out to cheerleaders and the great hope that one day they will receive compensation that reflects their training and hard work, and they will be able to drink, dine and party in the same establishments as the players at the same time.
Christie Paulsen, Hopkins