Thomas Sowell

 Anyone who was serious about honoring the fallen troops would honor what they accomplished, not just the price they paid. More than 5,000 Marines died taking the one little island of Iwo Jima but they were honored for taking Iwo Jima -- a wretched little island in itself, but a crucial forward base for supporting the air attacks on Japan that ended World War II.

 Those who are busy "honoring" the deaths of American troops in Iraq seldom have much to say about what those troops accomplished. The restoration of electricity, the re-opening of hospitals and schools, and all the other things being done to try to restore a war-devastated country get little attention, and everything that has gone wrong makes the front pages and TV news for weeks on end.

 This is the approach that gave the media their biggest triumph and ego boost -- the discrediting of the war in Vietnam.

 More than 50,000 Americans died trying to save that country from Communist attacks. Their achievements included victories on the battlefield that were negated politically by the way the American press reported the war.

 In recent years, Vietnam's Communist leaders themselves have admitted that they lost that war on the ground but hung on because the American anti-war movement gave them hope that they could win it politically. It was a well-founded hope that the American media helped make come true when we withdrew both our troops and our financial and political backing for the Vietnamese under attack.

 At that time, the media had not yet come up with the gimmick of "honoring" American war dead but they were nevertheless able to throw away the victory for which those men sacrificed their lives.

 Will they repeat that heady achievement a second time in Iraq? They certainly seem to be trying. And it is no honor.

Thomas Sowell

Thomas Sowell is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institute and author of The Housing Boom and Bust.

Creators Syndicate