08 June 2005

How blessed are we?

How blessed are we as a nation that in this age of million dollar sports stars and selfishness, of crass hollywood stars and colleges that are hostile to the men and women in uniform that we continue to find heroes to fight this battle?

Some people say Randy Moss and other spoiled pampered rich sports stars are the face of America.

I think Sgt Paul smith and Sgt. Rafael Peralta are the real face of America.

These men and women don't get paid millions, they are away from their families for at least one year at a time and everyday they are in harm's way is a day they could die. Why do they do it and where do they come from? I believe they do it because they honestly believe in making the world a better place. This fight in Iraq is about the Iraqi people but it's about so much more than that. This fight I believe is about what kind of world we give to our children and grandchildren, will it be a world of hope and peace where all people have the freedom to live without fear or suffering, or will it be a world where violent struggles over pointless ideologies turn children into victims, women into property and men into animals? Those who wear the uniform of this country's military have taken a stand, a stand to do what's right and to do what is just. To be an American warrior today is to know that you will rarely see your family, rarely sleep in your home and rarely do the things 289 million other Americans take for granted. It means you will live in a foreign probably hostile land, that you likely face mortal combat against a cowardly foe that hides behind women and children and that you will lose people you care about. You will do all of this for not much more money than a teacher earns and you will do this while friends outside the military live normal sedentary lives. It's amazing that people still join given all those obstacles, but they do still join.

What could these people possibly see in risking one's very life in such a way? Some see a ticket to a better life through hard work and sacrifice which is the base of the American dream. Some see money for their college education to get out of the ghetto where they grew up, or the factory town where the factories are all gone or even the farm where heavy combat is cutting the south forty by lunchtime. Those of us who have served or continue to serve all did it for something that was personal to us. I also think a greater reason compels people to join, moreso today than at anytime since perhaps World War II. I have talked to dozens of soldiers and marines since my first tour in Iraq during the 03 invasion and many of the soldiers tell me they have a desire to serve their nation and to do what's right. To them doing what's right means to hunt down those who attacked us and their allies wherever in the world they hide, to them doing what's right means whenever possible helping oppressed people find their own voice and decide their own destiny free of murder, mayhem and despotism. Now 2 plus years after the Iraqi invasion and nearly 1700 dead Americans later and I still see that zeal in their eyes to do whatever is necessary to protect this nation and protect the infant Iraqi nation until it can fight its own enemies. They do what we ask, no matter the cost and they do it with a smile on their face, how blessed are we?

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