Dear America

Discussion in 'The Lounge' started by SkulzNBonz, Sep 23, 2004.

  1. SkulzNBonz

    SkulzNBonz 1/2 ton status

    Feb 20, 2002
    Likes Received:
    OKC, Oklahoma
    A letter from a Marine in Iraq

    September 11, 2004
    Dear America,

    "People sleep peaceably in their beds at night only because rough men stand
    ready to do violence on their behalf." -George Orwell

    The Marine Corps is tired. I guess I should not say that, as I have no
    authority or responsibility to speak for the Marine Corps as a whole, and my
    opinions are mine alone. I will rephrase: this Marine is tired. I write
    this piece from the sands of Iraq, west of Baghdad, at three a.m., but I am
    not tired of the sand. I am neither tired of long days, nor of flying and
    fighting. I am not tired of the food, though it does not taste quite right.

    I am not tired of the heat; I am not tried of the mortars that
    occasionally fall on my base. I am not tired of Marines dying, though all
    Marines, past and present, mourn the loss of every brother and sister that
    is killed; death is a part of combat and every warrior knows that going into
    battle. One dead Marine is too many, but we give more than we take, and
    unlike our enemies, we fight with honor. I am not tired of the missions or
    the people; I have only been here a month, after all. I am, however, tired
    of the hypocrisy and shortsightedness that seems to have gripped so many of
    my countrymen and the media. I am tired of political rhetoric that misses
    the point, and mostly I am tired of people "not getting it."

    Three years ago I was sitting in a classroom at Quantico, Virginia, while
    attending the Marine Corps Basic Officer Course, learning about the finer
    points of land navigation. Our Commanding Officer interrupted the class to
    inform us that some planes had crashed in New York and Washington DC, and
    that he would return when he knew more. Tears welled in the eyes of the
    Lieutenant on my right while class continued, albeit with an audience that
    was not very focused; his sister lived in New York and worked at the World
    Trade Center. We broke for lunch, though instead of going to the chow hall
    proceeded to a small pizza and sub joint which had a television. Slices of
    pizza sat cold in front of us as we watched the same vivid images that you
    watched on September 11, 2001. I look back on that moment now and realize
    even then I grasped, at some level, that the events of that day would alter
    both my military career and my country forever. Though I did not know that
    three years later, to the day, I would be flying combat missions in Iraq as
    an AH-1W Super Cobra pilot, I did understand that a war had just begun, on
    television for the world to see, and that my classmates and I would fight
    that war. After lunch we were told to go to our rooms, clean our weapons
    and pack our gear for possible deployment to the Pentagon to augment
    perimeter security. The parting words of the order were to make sure we
    packed gloves, in case we had to handle bodies.

    The first Marine killed in Operation Iraqi Freedom was in my company at The
    Basic School, and was sitting in that land navigation class on September 11.
    He fought bravely, led from the front, and was killed seizing an oil
    refinery on the opening day of the war. His heroism made my emergency
    procedure memorization for the T-34 primary flight school trainer seem quite
    insignificant. This feeling of frustration was shared by all of the student
    pilots, but we continued to press on. As one instructor pointed out to us,
    "You will fight this war, not me. Make sure that you are prepared when you
    get there." He was right; my classmates from Pensacola are here beside me,
    flying every day in support of the Marines on the ground. That instructor
    has since retired, but I believe he has retired knowing that he made a
    contribution to the greatest country in the history of the world, the United
    States of America.

    Many of you will read that statement and balk at its apparently presumptuous
    and arrogant nature, and perhaps be tempted to stop reading right here. I
    would ask that you keep going, for I did not say that Americans are better
    than anyone else, for I do not believe that to be the case. I did not say
    that our country, its leaders, military or intelligence services are perfect
    or have never made mistakes, because throughout history they have, and will
    continue to do so, despite their best efforts. The Nation is more than the
    sum of its citizens and leaders, more than its history, present, or future;
    a nation has contemporary values which change as its leaders change, but it
    also has timeless character, ideals forged with the blood and courage of
    patriots. To quote the Pledge of Allegiance, our nation was founded "under
    God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all." As Americans, we have
    more freedom than we can handle sometimes.

    If you are an atheist you might have a problem with that whole "under God"
    part; if you are against liberating the people of Iraq, Afghanistan, Asia,
    all of Europe (twice), and the former Soviet bloc, then perhaps the "liberty
    and justice for all" section might leave you fuming. Our Nation, throughout
    its history, has watered the seeds of democracy on many continents, with
    blood, even when the country was in disagreement about those decisions.
    Disagreement is a wonderful thing. To disagree with your neighbors and your
    government is at the very heart of freedom. Citizens have disagreed about
    every important and controversial decision made by their leaders throughout
    history. Truman had the courage to drop two nuclear weapons in order to end
    the largest war in history, and then, by his actions, prevented the Soviets
    from extinguishing the light of democracy in Eastern Europe, Berlin.
    Lincoln preserved our country through civil war; Reagan knew in his heart
    that freedom is a more powerful weapon than oppression. Leaders are paid to
    make difficult, sometimes controversial decisions. History will judge the
    success of their actions and the purity of their intent in a way that is
    impossible at the present moment. In your disagreement and debate about the
    current conflict, however, be very careful that you do not jeopardize your
    nation or those who serve. The best time to use your freedom of speech to
    debate difficult decisions is before they are made, not when the lives of
    your countrymen are on the line.

    Cherish your civil rights; I know that after having been in Iraq for only
    one month I have a new appreciation for mine. You have the right to say
    that you "support the troops" but oppose the war in Iraq and Afghanistan.
    You have the right to vote for Senator John Kerry because you believe that
    he has an exit strategy for Iraq, or because you just cannot stand President
    Bush. You have the right to vote for President George W. Bush if you believe
    that he has done a good job over the last four years. You might even decide
    that you do not want to vote at all and would rather avoid the issues as
    much as possible. That is certainly your option, and doing nothing is the
    only option for many people in this world.

    It is not my place, nor am I allowed by the Uniformed Code of Military
    Justice, to tell you how to vote. But I can explain to you the truth about
    what is going on around you. We know, and have known from the beginning,
    that the ultimate success or failure of the war in Iraq and Afghanistan, as
    well as the future of those countries, rests solely on the shoulders of the
    Iraqi and Afghani people. If someone complains that we should not have gone
    to war with Saddam Hussein, that our intelligence was bad, that President
    Bush's motives were impure, then take the appropriate action. Exercise your
    right to vote for Senator Kerry, but please stop complaining about something
    that happened over a year ago. The decision to deploy our military in Iraq
    and Afghanistan is in the past, and while I believe that it is important to
    the democratic process for our nation to analyze the decisions of our
    leadership in order to avoid repeating mistakes, it is far more important to
    focus on the future. The question of which candidate will "get us out of
    Iraq sooner" should not be a consideration in your mind. YOU SHOULD NOT
    WANT US OUT OF IRAQ OR AFGHANISTAN SOONER. There is only one coherent exit
    strategy that will make our time here worthwhile and validate the sacrifice
    of so many of our countrymen. There is only one strategy that has a chance
    of promoting peace and stabilizing the Middle East. It is the exit strategy
    of both candidates, though voiced with varying volumes and differing degrees
    of clarity. I will speak of Iraq because that is where I am, though I feel
    the underlying principle applies to both Iraq and Afghanistan.

    The American military must continue to help train and support the Iraqi
    Police, National Guard, and Armed Forces. We must continue to give them
    both responsibility and the authority with which to carry out those
    responsibilities, so that they eventually can kill or capture the former
    regime elements and foreign terrorists that are trying to create a radical,
    oppressive state. We must continue to repair the infrastructure that we
    damaged during the conflict, and improve the infrastructure that was
    insufficient when Saddam was in power. We should welcome and encourage
    partners in the coalition but recognize that many will choose the path of
    least resistance and opt out; many of our traditional allies have been
    doing this for years and it should not surprise us. We must respect the
    citizens of Iraq and help them to understand the meaning of basic human
    rights, for those are something the average Iraqi has never experienced. We
    must be respectful of our cultural and religious differences. We must help
    the Iraqis develop national pride, and most importantly, we must leave this
    country better than we found it, at the right time, with a chance of success
    so that its people will have an opportunity to forge their own destiny. We
    must do all of these things as quickly and efficiently as possible so that
    we are not seen as occupiers, but rather liberators and helpers. We must
    communicate this to the world as clearly and frequently as possible, both
    with words and actions.

    If we leave before these things are done, then Iraq will fall into anarchy
    and possibly plunge the Middle East into another war. The ability of the
    United States to conduct foreign policy will be severely, and perhaps
    permanently, degraded. Terrorism will increase, both in America and around
    the world, as America will have demonstrated that it is not interested in
    building and helping, only destroying. If we run or exit early, we prove to
    our enemies that terror is more powerful and potent than freedom. Many
    nations, like Spain, have already affirmed this in the minds of the
    terrorists. Our failure, and its consequences, will be squarely on our
    shoulders as a nation. It will be our fault. If we stay the course and
    Iraq or Afghanistan falls into civil war on its own, then our hands are
    clean. As a citizen of the United States and a U.S. Marine, I will be able
    to sleep at night with nothing on my conscience, for I know that I, and my
    country, have done as much as we could for these people. If we leave early,
    I will not be able to live with myself, and neither should you. The blood
    will be on our hands, the failure on our watch.

    The bottom line is this: Republican or Democrat, approve or disapprove of
    the decision to go to war, you need to support our efforts here. You cannot
    both support the troops and protest their mission. Every time the parent of
    a fallen Marine gets on CNN with a photo, accusing President Bush of
    murdering his son, the enemy wins a strategic victory. I cannot begin to
    comprehend the grief he feels at the death of his son, but he dishonors the
    memory of my brave brother who paid the ultimate price. That Marine
    volunteered to serve, just like the rest of us. No one here was drafted. I
    am proud of my service and that of my peers. I am ashamed of that parent's
    actions, and I pray to God that if I am killed my parents will stand with
    pride before the cameras and reaffirm their belief that my life and
    sacrifice mattered; they loved me dearly and they firmly support the
    military and its mission in Iraq and Afghanistan. With that statement, they
    communicate very clearly to our enemies around the world that America is
    united, that we cannot be intimidated by kidnappings, decapitations and
    torture, and that we care enough about the Afghani and Iraqi people to give
    them a chance at democracy and basic human rights. Do not support those
    that seek failure for us, or seek to trivialize the sacrifices made here.
    Do not make the deaths of your countrymen be in vain. Communicate to your
    media and elected officials that you are behind us and our mission. Send
    letters and encouragement to those who are deployed. When you meet a person
    that serves you, whether in the armed forces, police, or fire department,
    show them respect. Thank the spouses around you every day, raising children
    alone, whose loved ones are deployed. Remember not only those that have
    paid the ultimate price, but the veterans that bear the physical and
    emotional scars of defending your freedom. At the very least, follow your
    mother's advice. "If you can't say something nice, don't say anything at
    all." Do not give the enemy a foothold in our Nation's public opinion. He
    rejoices at Fahrenheit 9/11 and applauds every time an American slams our
    efforts. The military can succeed here so long as American citizens support
    us wholeheartedly.

    Sleep well on this third anniversary of 9/11, America. Rough men are
    standing ready to do violence on your behalf. Many of your sons and
    daughters volunteered to stand watch for you. Not just rough men- the
    infantry, the Marine grunts, the Special Operations Forces- but lots of
    eighteen and nineteen year old kids, teenagers, who are far away from home,
    serving as drivers, supply clerks, analysts, and mechanics. They all have
    stories, families, and dreams. They miss you, love you, and are putting
    their lives on the line for you. Do not make their time here, their
    sacrifice, a waste. Support them, and their mission.

  2. surpip

    surpip 1 ton status

    Apr 7, 2004
    Likes Received:
    sacramento ca
    that about sum's it up /forums/images/graemlins/waytogo.gif /forums/images/graemlins/bow.gif
  3. mtn. burb

    mtn. burb 1/2 ton status

    May 13, 2004
    Likes Received:
    Ojai Calif.
    Amen. That Marine has clarity and understanding.

    We are the greatest Nation. Be proud. Good post.

  4. bigyellowjimmy

    bigyellowjimmy 1/2 ton status

    Jan 15, 2004
    Likes Received:
    Chandler, AZ
    Excellent letter! Its men like this that keep our country free.

    [ QUOTE ]
    The bottom line is this: Republican or Democrat, approve or disapprove of
    the decision to go to war, you need to support our efforts here. You cannot
    both support the troops and protest their mission.

    [/ QUOTE ]

    This is the bottom line, I agree completely.

    Im proud of our administration our military and Im proud to be an American!


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