Afghan war veteran Elliot Anderson gave this week’s Democratic response to President Bush’s weekly radio address. After mentioning his time in the Marines and Afghanistan Anderson said, “Patriotism isn’t a Democratic or a Republican value — it’s an American value. I strongly oppose our involvement in Iraq’s civil war, but I am still proud of my service to my country. No matter what any of us thinks about the war in Iraq, we all support our troops on the ground. The Democratic Party has always stood for that, both in words and action.” Anderson mentioned that the Democrats appropriated $3.6 billion more for veterans’ health care than the president requested. The Democrats also rejected a GOP plan to attach fees to veteran’s health care that would have driven 200,000 vets out of the system.

 He also said that, “Democrats added more than a billion dollars for Mine Resistant Ambush Protected Vehicles to protect our troops against roadside bombs — and another $2 billion to make sure that veterans returning home get the quality health care they deserve. Some of these funds will go to fix the awful conditions at Walter Reed Medical Center. No government that truly supports its troops would let the country’s largest veteran’s health facility fall into disrepair…”But I know I speak for many of my friends overseas when I say that the best way to honor the troops is to responsibly end our involvement in Iraq’s civil war.”

Anderson closed his address by encouraging Americans to do something to support the troops. “I said before that patriotism is not about politics. It’s about loving our country. I would like to close by suggesting a way that you can show your patriotism and support for our troops on Memorial Day, and every day after. Visit www.treatsfortroops.com, www.anymarine.com, or www.booksforsoldiers.com. These websites, and others, make it easy for you to send a care package to show your appreciation for our troops, and your support means so much to all of us.” (All three of these are fine organizations).

It is about time that the Democrats started to consistently point out that it is not unpatriotic to disagree with this war. The soldiers who are fighting right now did not have a choice. Their job is to go and fight when and where they are told to do so. They deserve our support and sympathy for having to participate in a military action that has been one of the most poorly designed and mismanaged in United States history. It isn’t the soldiers’ fault that some civilian politicians overruled the experts and decided to fight a war as they saw fit, instead of listening to the advice of people who knew what they are talking about.

I don’t like this politicization of Memorial Day by both parties. From May 2006-May 26, 2007 1,025 U.S soldiers have died in Iraq and 105 in Afghanistan. So while both parties continue to play political games with each other, young Americans will continue to die. Maybe instead of patriotism, we ought to think about the 1,130 dead people who gave up their lives, and are never going to come back to their families. Isn’t this what Memorial Day is really supposed to be about?

Transcript of Democratic radio response

Jason Easley is the editor of the politics zone at 411mania.com.  His news column The Political Universe appears on Tuesdays and Fridays at www.411mania.com/politics

Jason can also be heard every Sunday afternoon at 1:30 pm (ET) as the host of The Political Universe Radio Show at http://www.blogtalkradio.com/thepoliticaluniverse
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