On Iraq Veterans

Everytime, I see a soldier in full combat fatigues, I assume they're on leave from duty in Iraq. This assumption is probably true about 95% of the time. Its diffcult for me to put into words how I respond to them. On the one hand, I feel the war itself is a total quagmire that never should have been. On the otherhand, I know that these soldiers have endured things I will never understand... and perhaps most importantly, did their duty, regardless of whether they agreed or not with what they were doing. In battle, I'm sure that none of this rhetoric mattered, and they were merely fighting for their lives, and the lives of their friends, day by day.  Whenever I see them, I want to wander up to them, and sheepishly say, "thank you". When I imagine myself doing, I even seem to go so Americaan as to preface it with, "I just wanted to tell you..." (nobody is perfect). I've met people who like to single out soldiers as henchmen of the evil doers. To be honest, these people make me red in the face. Few people realize it, but one of the chief reasons I feel we sleep so well at night is because the US marine corpse, Army, and Air Force will kick the shit out of anyone who dares try attack us. Many of them wait their entire lives just for the chance. Is having them on our side so bad? No really. Are you really pissed that the tens of thousands of marines would die for you, if push come to shove? I'm all for peace, but a historical trend could be succinctly summed up as, "nothing like assuring death to attackers to keep the peace." Think: nuclear arms race. *** I never have thanked a random soldier. I guess its because I'm all twisted up about my countries role in the world. I don't want to thank them so that *I feel better*. And I certainly don't want to bother them at random Austin, TX coffee shops where they may be seeing their girl friend for the first time in a year. Its a funny thing, I violently disagree with the adminstration who is giving them orders. I think the Bush adminstration better resembles little boys playing "war" in a sandbox (they apparently haven't allowed the quantity of deaths that resulted in their playtime set in), than a government befitting of a superpower. And jesus, our hopelessly lofty, and idotic rhetoric! (oh god, we Americans must look so horrid to outsiders...). When all is said and done however, I don't merely respect the troops. I am thankful they are there... administrations come and go, but a special few who volunteer to protect us -- to death --  is something that we should never take for granted.