Sunday, November 11, 2007

For fallen soldiers

Today is Remembrance Day in UK and Veterans' Day in USA. Both holidays celebrate the same idea, to remember soldiers who have fought and died in various wars around the world.

This kind of remembrance is difficult in Hong Kong for various reasons. Hong Kong has not been in a major war since World War II, so my and my parents' generation cannot begin to imagine what war is really like. This lack of awareness is further enhanced by the fact Hong Kong has no military forces. This little special administrative region depends entirely on the People's Liberation Army for protection. Hong Kong people cannot enlist into the army, air force or navy and know what it is like to fight in a war.

Whatever your views of war and fighting, you must have an appreciation for the soldiers who do the dirty words. Few will begrudge people who decide to join up and fight for his/her country... except for that little weird American family/cult who picket military funerals with placards saying the soldiers' deaths are God's punishment on liberating homosexuals. That is an exception. Soldiers just carry out their orders - "It's not to reason why but to do or die." Some question this proverb but it is extremely useful. If we started to reason why for every decision in every war, we would doubt every decision made by our leaders.

Wars are not fought between two countries. Wars are fought between two men - the leaders. There is never a referundum or vote to decide whether or not to go to war. The population entrust their leaders with the decision whether or not to go to war and sometime it doesn't work. There have only been two occasions in my recollection and my opinion where war has been really necessary. The first was World War II but we only found out on the true extent afterwards of Hitler's terror. The second occasion was the first Gulf War after Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait. All other wars were just to gain control or power and otherwise were unnecessary. This includes the current fighting in Afghanistan and Iraq.

As you sitting there reading this entry, just remember there have been people who sacrificed their lives for you to be able to do that.

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