Left Coast Voices

"I would hurl words into the darkness and wait for an echo. If an echo sounded, no matter how faintly, I would send other words to tell, to march, to fight." Richard Wright, American Hunger

Veteran’s Day 6 – A Bumper Sticker Bears Witness

I’m not sure that I agree with this one. It can sometimes be too simplistic to make such historical comparisons (I appreciate that this is coming from a person who finds profoundness in bumper stickers).

But there is a point that I have been trying to convey in my blog posts this week that is also a clear theme of Unwanted Heroes. You cannot change the past. The treatment of war veterans from previous wars can never be corrected. Organizations like Swords to Plowshares help to remedy the injustice, but the memories remain.

What can be done is to learn from past mistakes. When soldiers return from Iraq and Afghanistan, they must be received with respect regardless of our political views, and they must receive the support and benefits that were so sadly lacking for those who returned before them.

Otherwise a travesty begets a travesty. The worse crime we can commit as a society is to fail to learn from our past and our mistakes.

Never Again is a powerful rallying charge for my people when we talk about the Holocaust. But is a worthy rallying cry for other injustices such as this.

Alon Shalev is the author of The Accidental Activist (now available on Kindle) and A Gardener’s Tale. He is the Executive Director of the San Francisco Hillel Foundation, a non-profit that provides spiritual and social justice opportunities to Jewish students in the Bay Area. More on Alon Shalev at www.alonshalev.com

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