Julian B Support the Troops 4/27/08
This I Believe
I believe in patriotism. More specifically, I believe in supporting the men and women that fight for our country. Politics aside, the armed forces of America, fighting in all parts of the world, deserve not only our support, but also our respect. They come from various locations in the United States, and sign up for the Army, Navy, or Marine Corps to serve the government, which has provided them with security all of their lives. What has become so unpatriotic about that?
Protesters now flock to military funerals with signs that read, “thank god for dead soldiers” or “ god hates fag enablers.” Other war opponents line the entrance to military bases so that they can throw rocks and vandalize the cars passing through. Don’t get me wrong, protesting war is patriotic; demoralizing the soldiers that fight that war is not. Responsible opponents to the Iraqi conflict wage war on the leaders who are sending Americans to die in a war that they feel is unnecessary. These protesters show an understanding for the war by going to the source rather than accusing military personnel. The truth is that our fighting men and woman are not politicians. They have no say in what missions they choose to accept and what ones they don’t. As General Joseph Anderson stated in his presentation to students attending Holderness School “our soldiers do their jobs, and they do them well.”
My nephew heads to Iraq in may. As the date draws nearer he is visibly afraid. He has gone from a pack to two packs of cigarettes a day. His face is red with too much drinking. The stress of entering a war Sean has been following since he was ten is beginning to make itself apparent. As a family, we have supported him since he decided to enter the Marines on his eighteenth birthday. Sean relies on the family’s support, and often talks to me about what he is going through. Sometimes the conversation turns to those who oppose the war: like myself. Even though our political debates can get ugly, Sean and I both agree that I can oppose the war, and support those who are in it simultaneously. And that is just what I do.
Sean’s symptoms of stress and depression are not unique to members of the military. Suicide rates in Iraq have recently jumped from three a day to five a day. The anxiety of living in one of the most dangerous places to be an American slowly wears soldiers down. A soldier has to know that their country’s citizens are behind them in order to press on and survive. Care packages with toothbrushes, candy, and magazines are materially helpful, but the knowledge that they are being supported is invaluable.
I fiercely oppose the war in Iraq, but I also intensely support my nephew and those like him who have chosen to serve. I admire the courage it takes to face America’s enemies despite personal beliefs. When confronted by protesters looking to bash the Army, Navy, or Marine Corps, I say disregard your politics, these men are heroes.
If you enjoyed this essay, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to This I Believe, Inc.