The War is Over. We're All Responsible.

U.S. troops head to Iraq, 2006. Image via Wiki Commons

U.S. soldiers board a flight to Iraq in Kuwait, Oct. 2006. Image via Wiki Commons

Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel once said about the war in Vietnam, “Some are guilty, all are responsible.” It is a good reminder of our responsibilities now that the war in Iraq has officially been declared ended.

First, we as a society are responsible for the necessary care for our returned veterans. A total of 1.5 million American men and women served in the armed forces in Iraq.  Nearly 35,000 suffered physical injuries, as many as 360,000 may have brain injuries, and as many as 25 percent have symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder. 

Suicides and divorces are rising, homelessness and unemployment are high.

Having sent them to war, our society now needs to assume the responsibility for providing what they and their families need. As Abraham Lincoln reminded the country in his second inaugural speech, as the Civil War was ending in March 1865, one of the unfinished tasks was “to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan …”  

We must advocate for and ensure that in the budget and deficit cutting battles to come, the necessary funding for veterans care and benefits are maintained. It’s a moral obligation.

The war is over. Lowering the flag.


Wars usually end in one of two ways – victory or defeat.

World War II ended with a ceremony on the deck of the USS Missouri, with Japanese foreign minister Mamoru Shigemitsu signing a document of surrender, which U.S. General Douglas MacArthur accepted.

On the other hand, the war in Vietnam ended with a frantic two-day evacuation of U.S. diplomatic and military personnel from the Embassy in Saigon, culminating in the final helicopter leaving the roof with Vietnamese civilians hanging from the skids.

The “official end” of the war in Iraq was neither of these