U.S. must provide Ukraine with weapons so it can win the war against Russia | Opinion

I wonder. The April 30, 2019, National Archives and the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall in Washington, D.C., both list the names of 58,202 American military killed in Vietnam.

My friends, Jim, Mac, and Bob, with whom I graduated from high school, died years after they fought in Vietnam as result of wounds suffered in Vietnam. Their names are not on “The Wall” in Washington DC. Their names are not on the list of names in the National Archives.

The National Archives also lists the names of 405,399 Americans killed in World War II. My father died as a result of diseases contracted while serving as a medical corpsman on Guadalcanal, Tarawa, and Saipan. His name is not listed with those 405,399, though I vividly remember watching him suffer his last attack of malaria in the summer of 1967, just days before I was drafted.

If I am not killed in an accident, or by some disease such as Covid-19, or by a deranged man, or boy, better armed than those with whom I stalked the jungles of Vietnam in 1968, I will likely die as a result of diseases contracted while in Vietnam. My name will not be added to “The Wall” in Washington DC, or any other related database. However, just as Jim, Mac, and Bob died as a result of serving in Vietnam, so will I.

On March 7, 1936, Adolf Hitler sent his army into the Rhineland, breaking the Treaty of Versailles, which ended World War I. The free world did nothing.

On March 11, 1938, Adolph Hitler sent his army into Austria. The free world did nothing.

On March 1, 1939, Adolph Hitler sent his army into the Sudetenland of Czechoslovakia. The free world did nothing.

On September 1, 1939, Hitler sent his army into Poland. This time the free world reacted — after having given Hitler and his military an additional three years to prepare for war.

Had the free world reacted in 1936 as it did in 1939, it is possible my wife’s father, who was wounded in Normandy, in 1944, and died years later as a result of those wounds, may not have suffered those years of pain and sorrow remembered from having held those as they were dying on Omaha Beach. As with my father, his name is not on the list of American soldiers killed during World War II.

I wonder — if we, the United States of America, do not provide the outnumbered Ukrainian people with adequate weaponry to defend their families, their homes, their country, and their freedom against the brutality and tyranny of the invading Russian army, sent by dictator Vladimir Putin to kill, conquer, and imprison them, because the Ukraine is not a NATO country, then how many American soldiers will eventually die when we send soldiers to a NATO ally to fight an invading Russian army sent by an emboldened Vladimir Putin because Russia’s previous invasions had not been challenged by the free world joining together?

I hope the name of my grandson, now 13 years old, is not on a future list In the National Archives of those American military personnel who died on the soil of a NATO ally, fighting Russian aggression, or that his name is not remembered with those of his grandfather, his grandfather’s friends, and his great grandfathers who died after the war from wounds, injuries, or disease suffered while fighting for his country — all because we would not provide the Ukrainians with the weapons they needed to defend themselves and American youth.

Jeffrey Luke worked for various Department of Energy contractors as an environmental regulatory and Tri-Party Agreement specialist. He retired in 2015 and lives in Richland.