Dear Mr. President,
Today we honor those who have fought and died for our country. I'm grateful for more than just the excuse to sleep in and miss class. I'm grateful for those who served in the armed forces, for the sacrifices they have made and the service they have done our country. I say all of this as an unapologetic critic of the wars we currently wage, the conduct of some of our troops therein, and of the military's anti-gay policies. I do not believe that my gratitude and my criticism are mutually exclusive.
On the contrary, I believe that the best way to support our troops is to never ask that they put themselves in harms way unless it is absolutely necessary. Unless our survival or our very humanity compels it. That we never put them at risk of torture by torturing our own enemy prisoners. That we never order them to kill in the name of an unjust war. I believe that we support our troops when we insist on allowing openly gay soldiers to serve. When we fully fund rehabilitation programs, health and especially mental health programs, education and employment opportunities for veterans. This is how we walk the walk of those yellow ribbons we wear.
I hope that today you reflect on the wars you inherited and the way they have been waged. On the kill lists, the interrogation methods, the civilian deaths that put our own troops at risk and destroy so many lives (and so many minds) on both sides. On the mistakes made, the mistakes perpetuated and the lies told to cover them up. I hope that you reflect on these things and conclude, as so many of us have, that our troops deserve better.