Memorial Day, 2011

   Monday is Memorial Day, a time when East Hampton’s Main Street stops for a brief half-hour as veterans and others march to show their support and appreciation for those who have died in the nation’s armed conflicts. Flags come out, old uniforms are unfolded, speeches are delivered at the war monument at the side of Hook Mill.
    While our country is not at peace, this year marks a gradual turn. Troops are coming home from Iraq, and there is optimism that the drawdown of forces in Afghanistan will occur as scheduled.
    In the aftermath of the death of Osama bin Laden, increasing calls have been heard from the left and the right, however, to accelerate the removal of our troops from Afghanistan. Richard Lugar, a Republican senator from Indiana, said earlier this month that the fighting there was sacrificing too many lives and costing too much. President Obama had set a July deadline for wrapping up combat operations, but support for such a hard withdrawal date appears to be wavering.
    The Afghan war has been the longest in U.S. history. On this Memorial Day, as we think of long-ago losses and those of a new generation, Americans might reflect on whether the time has come to finally bring the troops home.