Today more than sixty people were killed when multiple car bombs exploded in Baghdad, Iraq. More than 200 have died in similar attacks in the past week. As many of us thought, as soon as the United States pulled our troops out the country began to deteriorate in to what it was pre-war. The three sects of Islam are fighting to install their own, and only their own people in the seats of power. We may end up with a leader far worse than Saddam.
We are trying to change a place that has existed for thousands of years in this way. We are trying to force democracy on a people we simply may have no right to change. I don't have the answers to the dilemma that is the Middle East. Perhaps Isolate it. Radicals of any sort in that region will always hate The Great Satan. Bin Laden hated us AFTER we directly supplied him arms to defeat the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. That's an issue for politicians.
My problem is with our soldiers returning from the theater and what they are facing once home.
No, they are not being spat on or called "baby killer" or anything like our brother and sister soldiers faced after Vietnam. I thank God for that because the good men who fought THAT war did NOT deserve that home coming. Our soldiers today are facing something else entirely. Something hidden. Silent. Insidious.
They are facing the feeling of failure.
These men and women have gone overseas and stood proud for America, faced a determined enemy, seen friends die. They have done so with the belief they are accomplishing their mission. They are working hard to free a people from oppression and give them an opportunity to enjoy freedoms such and equality and education. They are displaying the courage and bravery and sacrifice our soldiers in every war have displayed...and I am proud of them all!
They serve their tour or tours and come home...and they learn a different truth.
They come home and read headlines like I read today. Iraq is returning to what it was for eons before our troops rolled in and dismantled the dictatorship. The bombings. The warring factions. Three sects of Islam willing to annihilate one another over interpretations of the same book!
I've made it a point to speak with any veteran of this war I've met, or at least those who could talk about it. These are not high ranking officers but boots-on-the-ground soldiers, privates, specialists, sergeants. When they were over seas, at ground level, they saw what was in front of them. They saw the attacks driven back. The insurgents thwarted. They saw forward motion.
Stateside the headlines told them otherwise. Headlines told them that all the men and women who died in Iraq did so so that we could surrender the little country to return to exactly what it was. Every one of them, during our conversations, seemed to run through the same gamut of emotions. Confusion. Anger. Fury. Detachment. I saw in every one of them the same thought: we failed.
I see this in them and it infuriates me!
The suicide rate and rate of violent crimes among soldiers both discharged and active have skyrocketed. How would you feel if you'd just spent one, two, three years in a war to come home and see nothing had changed? How would you feel if the government YOU served had withheld news from you that might have at least prepared you for that reality?
Do you know someone who served over there? A friend? A brother or sister or spouse? If so you need to deliver the following message. You need to deliver it verbatim. You need to get them to look you in the eye and really LISTEN, because they need to not only hear it but understand and believe it:
"Soldier! You DID NOT FAIL! You DID YOUR DUTY! You did it bravely, courageously, and for the right reasons! You are the heart and soul of this nation and you CAN BE PROUD of your service! If there were failures they were not YOURS but those of the diplomats and politicians who steered the course of this war! You stood for what you believe in, you suffered through heartache, you saw things no one should see, and YOU NEVER BACKED DOWN! Now you are home, and NO MATTER WHAT YOU READ IN THE NEWS YOU REMEMBER THESE WORDS! This nation owes you a great debt, this WORLD owes you a great debt! Now you live your life, for you have, more than many, earned the right to live in peace with the knowledge that YOU ARE THE BEST OF US!"
Please...help me spread this message. They need to know they did right, and they need to know it from US.
Semper Fi...and God Bless You All!