Sunday, February 10, 2008

A Tribute to my Brothers-in-Arms, the Marines

One of my most trusted friends, a former Marine who has deep roots in the special operations and overseas security contract community, sent me news from CNN who reported on the anti-war, liberal community in Berkley, California. He titled his message, "The latest from the Republik of Kalifornia."

Attached in the article was a picture of a woman holding a sign in protest. She and her ilk want the United States Marine Corps’ recruiters to leave the northern California city. The sign reads:

Travel to exotic lands,
Meet exciting unusual people

At first I laughed. Sometimes dark humor is the only way to deal with sad realities. But is it really that funny? Only an hour or two before I was nearly in tears when thinking I wasn't good enough, or clean enough, that my mind has been transformed into something dark and evil because of the realities of war.

If I had been a dentist, I would look at people and think of their lovely smiles, but I chose a different path. I look at people differently. I see the world differently. Coming to Iraq didn't do that; that transformation of taking a civil and moral human being—an honest, innocent, ignorant kid, me—and turning him into someone unafraid to justifiably kill and do it well, happened many years ago.

I can't run away from it. I can't hide it. I've learned it. And, sometimes I wished I had been a dentist so I could live an a bubble of bliss, ignorant of man's inhumanity to man—oblivious of the contention I’ve seen and bereft of my own seeming comfortable justification to use lethal force against any enemy bent on killing me or others. It's not just that either, it's the how that's bothersome. I mean how I'd kill. To know the tactics and techniques as well as I do is utterly repulsive. It’s a nightmare scenario I can’t ever escape.

So while you anti-war protestors sit there in your comfortable homes, with your luxury cars, with food on your tables, and peace in your neighborhood, fat from all the food you haven't had to beg for, soldiers, airmen and Marines are doing things you could never imagine.

You whine because your kids stay at their friend’s house too late. I complain because I haven't seen my kids grow up!

You cry when you stub your big toe. The Marine cries when his best friend gets killed and he has to watch him die.

You complain because the pizza delivery boy arrived late. The Marines are just grateful to have food!

You moan and grumble because you didn’t get what you wanted for Christmas. The only present the Marine gets for Christmas is a tad of homesickness.

You criticize your employer for not paying you more than a six figure salary. When the Marine comes home from war, he can’t get a job because companies are too afraid their insurance costs will rise if he suffers from PTSD.

You bellyache when you have to go to the grocery store for a gallon of milk. The Marine doesn’t even remember what the inside of a grocery store looks like, let alone does he remember the taste of real milk.

You can't even protect yourself. You need the Marines to do it for you.

What happens when godless terrorists obliterate the Golden Gate Bridge and take out half the city? What happens when they destroy the power grid and then release harmful chemicals into your city? What would happen if a country in opposition to the United States decided to invade America beginning at your very city? You don't even know what pain is. You should fall upon your knees and thank God that he sent the Marines to Iwo Jima so your parents and their parents didn't have to fight off the enemy at the northern shores of California. You should be grateful that there are good men and women willing to fight, and endure unmatched mental, physical and emotional anguish, so you can keep the wonderful freedoms you enjoy, like your Constitutional Amendment rights, the freedom of speech and the freedom of peaceable assembly.

The Marines are doing what they do so you can stand on the streets in the best country on the face of this planet in protest about something you have no clue about. Fortunately, thanks to the love of God, country and the U.S. Constitution, it also gives us the right to wholeheartedly disagree with you—and put it in writing for the whole world to see!

If there's one thing the United States Marine Corps is doing its fighting so that others may live and enjoy freedoms similar to the ones you take for granted each day. Ours is a mission of peace, not war.

Finally, I'll end my raucous rant by quoting General Norman Schwarzkopf, the allied commander during the first Gulf War, who fought here in this same austere and arid land almost two decades ago.

A professional soldier understands that war means killing people, war means maiming people, and war means families left without mothers or fathers. All you have to do is hold your first dying soldier in your arms, and have that terribly futile feeling that his life is flowing out and you can’t do anything about it. Then you understand the horror of war. Any soldier worth his salt should be antiwar. And still there are things worth fighting for.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Jeff, My mind is flowing with all kinds of sayings and quotes. I keep thinking of Col. Grossman, more and more often. WE are sheepdogs, if we weren't we'd be wolves. Yet, we have that honor and commitment DEEP inside that makes us sheepdogs. Stay safe brother, GOD bless and Semper FI!