REFLECTION DAY VS. MEMORIAL DAY
DAVID H. HACKWORTH

Welcome to the week of LWF!

You know, it follows the long-lost weekend where millions of Americans get paid for kicking back and having a blast. Most citizens haven't a clue what LWF stands for, and on a multiple-choice test would probably pick Long Weekend of Fun or Let's Wave the Flag rather than Lest We Forget.

Ask 10 Americans below the age of 30 what Memorial Day is about. Bet most won't know it's supposed to honor all those who've served our country and preserved our liberty since we booted the Brits out -- with a special salute to those who paid the ultimate sacrifice.

Lest We Forget.

A recent survey of college seniors -- those who could read and write -- revealed that more than 20 percent of our nation's best and brightest didn't know who our enemy was during World War II or which side, North or South Vietnamese, we took during our eight-year-long Vietnam War.

Maybe we should rename Memorial Day, make it a time to ask hard questions about why so many young men died in vain and where our country is going.

We could call it Reflection Day, and begin by asking Congress:

* Why it did diddly squat in the 1930s when Japan and Germany were huffing and puffing and then executing their plans to kick our butt. Congressional refusal to prepare for war cost tens of thousands of American lives in places like Pearl Harbor, Corregidor, Guadalcanal, Kesserine Pass and in dozens of other early fights where our warriors didn't have the right stuff, right numbers or right training to do the job.

* Why it allowed Harry Truman to gut our armed forces after World War II to the point that when North Korea attacked in 1950 with its tiny 110,000-man army, our unmotivated, badly trained forces were almost driven into the sea. Once again, our lack of combat readiness cost thousands of lives, and over the next three years as the war ratcheted up, the Soviet Union and the USA came perilously close to nuking what we euphemistically call modern civilization into a glowing oblivion.

* Why it allowed LBJ and his generals and admirals to lie their way into the Vietnam War, and then, once we were stuck in the swamps of Southeast Asia, didn't demand that our commanders use the right tactics -- and save American lives -- instead of refighting World War II. And why it sat on its hands for almost eight years before bringing our troops home from that futile bloodbath.

* Why it allowed the Gulf War to end on the 100th ground-attack hour after the enormous effort and expense of putting our war machine on the field when one of Stormin' Norman's strategic objectives -- to destroy Saddam Hussein's army -- wasn't achieved. Ten years later, that war rolls on while Iraq's leader continues to give us the bird and enthusiastically plans an American holocaust.

* Why it allowed America to go to war with Serbia -- violating every Principle of War -- with tactics so flawed that our oldest European allies openly question our senior leadership's wisdom and military competence.

* Why it allowed the precise and professional military machine we had at the end of Desert Storm to be virtually destroyed in terms of spirit, fighting ability and capabilities during the eight year Clinton Reign of Error. It has left a ruptured shell -- amazingly similar to what we had just before the Korean War -- filled with dispirited warriors and disconnected brass who seem to actually believe a black beret can fix Army morale.

And on Reflection Day, after evaluating where we've been, maybe we as a nation should look in the mirror and ask ourselves if we're pleased with where our country's going. And ask, too, if we've become what we resolved to defeat, an Evil Empire that's lost touch with what our forefathers envisioned for America.

Does the involvement of CIA contractors in the shooting down of a missionary plane over Peru say it all? And does our collective apathy toward this event and thousands of other such USA-sponsored incidents around the world underline the need for us all to take time out and do some hard thinking the next time this supposedly hallowed day comes around?

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