...but I'm a glutton for punishment.
I make it a strict point to stay out of the political discussions about the war here in the backroom, because as a banged-up veteran of this war, I tend to run a little hot under the collar about the politicization of the war from both sides of the American political spectrum.
Today, though, CMC_Irish's post about some Liberals actually wanting us to lose this war just to secure President Bush's legacy as the worst American president has stirred me to weigh in on the subject.
I went to war for America three times in just over 12 years. I fought in the streets of Mogedieshu to try and end the warlord Addid's iron grip on a beleagered and starving people at the behest of the humanitarian nature of the American people. I bridged the frozen rivers of the Balkans to end genocide in the name of the Christian religion in Macedonia and Kosovo to ensure our nation's promise that genocide in any region will be met with American force of arms. I ended my career by engaging an invisible terrorist enemy in hopes of distracting him away from the innocent lives of my fellow Americans with my own, and many others as the bait.
I will bear the scars of these battles upon my body until I am become dust. The bullet wound in my shoulder from Somalia, The shrapnel scar in my foot from a Russian landmine in Kosovo, and my battered skull and matching shrapnel scars upon my legs and side are as much symbols of my pride as the medal for valor that the Army awarded me. The American decision to withdraw from Somalia in light of the deaths of 19 American heroes still festers within me, as does the pride that ending the genocide in the Balkans brought to me. My war in Iraq is over, but my sacrifice there has become permanent. And I am but one story that you happen to know because you have a love for Notre Dame in common with me.
I was not selective about the Americans I went to war for. I never singled any of you out for color, race, creed, religion, politics, nor any other obscure reason, and didn't represent you. I represented you as best I could, despite the enemy, elements, or continent. I wore your flag upon my shoulder, and I never retreated a step because I was one small part of the instrument of your will, and I would have rather died than to have failed you.
And then I read nonsense like this lunchtime chatter from "liberals" that CMC Irish was forced to endure today. I don't see how he didn't retch, or punch someone...liberal, conservative, or otherwise.
I fought two wars for a "liberal" President, and one for a "conservative" President. There was no difference aside from how you folks at home viewed it. All my wars were equally hellish. Party politics didn't matter to anyone I knew who was dodging bullets, only to the people keeping score while watching Fox News or CNN.
I am an American. Everything I love is American. It was worth all of the pain and sacrifice to be able to look at the stars and stripes waving in Anytown, U.S.A., and know that one of those many thousands of threads that makes her up belongs to me, bought and paid for.
I cannot for the life of me understand why any American would want a President to fail. I would never wish for this in a million years. I pray every night for God to guide him and give him the strength to lead us well and wisely, and I don't care one whit what his name or politics are.
I know simply that he is our nations' President, and hes in the Oval Office because we chose for him to be. I don't think you have to agree with him, or even to have faith in him, because sadly, at this juncture, I no longer have faith in our current President, but I do not hope that he fails, and I pray and hope beyond hope that he can make sound decisions and guide us to the best possible outcomes in all things.
In the same vein, how does one hope that the country that provides for them and shields them from harm, the very land that their forefathers built upon their forefathers bones loses a war? To ensure a legacy of infamy in a history book for President Bush at the expense of the embarrasment of their homeland, their government, and their military?
I am shocked and embarrased that my own sacrifice, and the much larger sacrifices of meny better men I served alongside included protecting folks of this ilk.
I will share with you the single greatest life-lesson I learned while serving in the Army for those 12 short years...The lesson is simple-
America is a shield. A giant, impregnable and near-impenetrable shield that closes off our borders and shields us from most harmful things.
War in Chechnia? Big Fucking Deal. Rampant Starvation in Rwanda? Who Cares aside from Sally Struthers? Protestants and Catholics bombing each other to oblivion in Northern Ireland? India and Pakistan at the brink of nuclear war? What's the score of the Cubs game?
We as a people are unaffected and unafflicted by damn near every harmful thing on this planet, and what do you credit that to? If you reflect on it even just a bit, no matter your affiliations or your politics you MUST attribute it to the sacrifices of the "Greatest Generation" and their vision of what America should be. They shaped the government at every level, they fought wars to liberate our allies in Europe, and to counter Communism on every front imaginable. They built an economy, government, and military out of the ashes of the devestation of the depression era that saw us become the first superpower in the modern world just 10 short years later. They worked their fingers to the bone to live through their times, and kept a watchful eye on the world they would leave for us in the process, and we owe them so very much. It is a sad thing that we haven't learned more from these men and women, these patriots and heroes than we have in reality.
We as Americans today barely know the value of hard work, take very little pride in our products, we villify intelligence, and glamorize violence. And we've become so apathetic that we can hope for ourselves to lose wars and have failed governmental administrations.
I honestly weep for the future of our children if this is the attitude we're going to continue to instill in them.
Am I to understand these also were Notre Dame students who said these things today? Have they not walked through the doors of the Basillica under some of the most sacred words I have ever laid my eyes upon? God, Country, Notre Dame...If my life were to be relived, I would sacrifice everything for the chance to be a student there, and walk through those doors and read those words at every mass for my four years there, and yet there are those who are living that life who are blind to that message that I can see so very clearly. I wasn't so smart, or disciplined this time around, and my life took me to places very far away from South Bend, and Notre Dame, but I've always carried those words in my heart, and earlier this year, when I met with Dean Saracino about perhaps becoming a student there, I wept openly in his office just trying to convey to him that to me, Notre Dame and America were worth ten lifetimes of war and comerades lost. I was more intimidated walking under that Golden Dome for the first time with a purpose than I had ever been on the darkest day of combat. I can't imagine that could ever be lost on someone, but today, I suppose it is a reality that it has been lost on some.
I wish I could share with you all the visual images of digging up the mass graves of entire cities of poor Muslims in Kosovo, or impart to you the fear I saw on the streets and in the people of Mogedieshu to show you how lucky every one us are to have been born under our flag in this country, or to try and convince you that one of the things I am personally most proud of in my life is that I was out there watching while 12 classes of seniors graduated from Notre Dame on my watch. This I cannot do. It is only within you to fathom, and my words are just words on a computer screen to most of you.
It wounds me worse than any injury I have ever borne to see us take so many wonderful things for granted, and to take and take without giving anything back. Any American who wants our soldiers in the field to ever fail, or any of our Presidents to falter should get to a port of call immediately, and leave this land I love.
I won't miss them.
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