Years ago, before this war with Iraq and Afghanistan, my neighbor and I were discussing how to alleviate the problem without going to war. Both of us said, “Carpet-bomb them.” That was a very simplistic answer – an answer you give when you are ignorant of the situation, and when you have put no face to those you wish to “exterminate.” Speaking for myself, what I was really saying is that I was not prepared to send any of my three sons to die for a country I knew very little about.
At the time, my eldest was close to becoming eighteen years of age, and I knew he could be drafted to fight against the Iraqis. All I could think was that there was such hate, such fanaticism there, along with hundreds of years of civil unrest – how in the world would my son (or anyone’s son) ever make a difference? Then I met a man at a history museum who began to share things that are going on there; things that the press doesn’t report. As he rocked his two year old son in his stroller, he told me how the men and women in uniform are making a difference in Iraq. It’s not for nothing that they are there.
This I believe: that those men and women in our armed forces are making a difference, and they do so every day by helping those Iraqis not give up the hope that they too may someday live in peace, just as I do. That’s what our armed servicemen and women are doing: fighting so that the Iraqis might have freedom of the press, freedom of speech, freedom to organize, freedom to a fair trial, freedom to not be fearful every day that they’re alive, freedom to feel a sense of pride that every American man, woman and child has the right to feel. And, how is that I deserve to live in peace, but not the Iraqis? Is that only our right, to share those freedoms?
When I read about people’s responses to our soldiers dying, many are frustrated, and see no end to the bloodshed. I do understand this frustration. I still do not want my sons to die in the Middle East, but because of our freedom, they have that choice, just as they had in the Civil War. I can’t imagine what families felt when our own country was in its own Civil War and brothers fought against brothers, uncles, nephews, and cousins. Did they throw up their hands in fear, worry and despair, believing there would be no end to the bloodshed? I’m certain of it. We struggled to become a country, and that struggle is not ours alone. It is because of the service, the pride, the courage and sacrifice of those young men who died that gave us the freedoms we enjoy today in our country.
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