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It doesn’t take me long to find something to be thankful for because I’m just grateful to be here at all. So as we approach our annual weekend of Thanksgiving I get a bit overwhelmed with gratitude for those who sacrificed all they had to assure that the next generation was given the opportunity to live better lives than they did.

This noble goal has been fulfilled over and over and now it’s time for my generation to review whether or not we have left this place better off than we found it. My first thoughts on this matter always seem to answer this question with a resounding “no,” then again a “maybe” shows up somewhere, but in the end all I can do is come up with a “hope so.”

I’m a baby boomer, a child of the greatest generation raised in the ’50s and ’60s, who entered adulthood in the ’70s and slowly matured from there to where I am today. As such I’ve lived through more wars than most generations, the Korean War, Vietnam War, Iraq war, Afghanistan war and the seemingly everlasting war on terror. Unlike the wars of my previous generation, all of the wars during my time have lasted for at least a decade (World War I, four years; World War II, five years) and, as you know, we have now been fighting at least two official wars for almost two decades. Actually not a decade of my seven has passed without us being at war somewhere. Therefore I have to wonder if we mere mortals will ever be able to get along without war.

Think about the war to end all wars, WWI known as the Great War. The peace lasted for about as long as we’ve been fighting in Afghanistan when WWII came along to denounce the notion that the world had fought “The War to End All Wars.”

Baby boomers were mostly raised by WWII veterans and those vets who actually had to kill or be killed agreed with us kids back in the ’60s that “War is not healthy for kids and other things.” We really wanted to “give peace a chance” and many of us stood up to the folks who told us to “love America or leave it” because we loved our country as much as they did. It wasn’t that we didn’t want to serve our country, rather most of us who were raised by WWII combat veterans were told that they went to war with sincere hopes that their children would never have to.

Both my loyal readers know that I’ve opined that among many of our faults (remember Winston Churchill counted on us to do the right things after we try everything else) one of our gravest errors was not listening to President Dwight Eisenhower warn about something called the military industrial complex, and the next thing you know someone changed our war department to the defense department and we’ve been at war ever since.

I’m not saying that America should give up our military might but contrary to all the patriotic hoopla we find ourselves engaging in it seems to me that we are glorifying war and one of our legacies will have to state that we spent more of our treasure making war rather than making peace, and that should sadden all of us.

And before you take off about my love of America there are indeed times when we need to stand up and fight, but let’s make sure we don’t find out that our real enemy is actually us. I’m very thankful that I can say what I said while I continue to pray for peace. Happy Thanksgiving.

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Dan Ulmer is a parent, grandparent, as well as a retired teacher, counselor, politician, lobbyist, public employee, nonprofit executive and opinionated citizen who believes that we need to do what we can to leave the world better off than we found it.

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