A Letter for Andrew
The following short message comes from Donna Clemons, President of the Tennessee Marine Family organization, a wonderfully supportive group of mothers, wives, sweethearts, and other family members with Marines in our beloved Marine Corps. I urge you to go to the URL given below and read the letter by lstLt. Andrew Stern, Germantown, Tenn., written to his mother for her surprise birthday party, a letter that later appeared in Newsweek Magazine.
After Donna's message is my comment.
Yesterday, I received an e-mail from a friend that included a link. When I clicked on the link, it was from NEWSWEEK and in an ongoing series, NEWSWEEK is publishing letters and e-mails from fallen U.S. troops in Iraq to loved ones and friends back home. I read the first one and as I was scrolling down, the second letter is from our beloved 1st Lt. Andrew Stern of Germantown, Tennessee. Many of us know Richard and Eileen and have heard their wonderful stories of Andy. This is an incredible story of love from Andy to his mother. The Sterns have four boys. In honor of Eileen's 50th birthday, which was a surprise party ten days before Andy was killed, Richard asked each of the boys to write a letter to mom. Each gave him a great letter but, as always, Andy's was a cut above. Richard read each letter in front of about 20 of their best friends and there wasn't a dry eye in the place after reading Andy's (that he saved for last). Richard says they were all so euphoric and had a great evening, made even better knowing that Andy would be home in a month. You know the rest.Richard said that of the 20 or so letters they gave to Newsweek, this was the best. Richard went on to say, "And, now, the world will know how much Andy loved his Mom and this letter will be in the public domain forever. This makes me very, very happy."http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/17954574/site/newsweek/
Now my comment.
A friend of mine, Ray Walker, an old Marine Chosin Reservoir veteran, responded to me concerning an opinion piece about the laxity of European threat levels. Ray wrote: “The sad truth is Europe is still in denial. After 1600 or more years of almost constant warfare, their best of the best gene pool is exhausted and all that's left is the cowardly and the ostrich mentality. We, too, have lost more than we can afford of our best in our many wars in the last 200 years. We are now being subjected to the votes of the children of 4Fs, druggies, and deadbeats from the Beat Generation.’
He added, “In a population of almost 300 million, assuming 130 million males 18 and older, I doubt we could raise 5 million who would be moral and patriotic copies of our generations, who could be trusted to do the right thing in adverse circumstances without having to be shamed or drafted to do it.”
My friend may be guilty of oversimplification, but I believe he’s got a point. Those young men whose love of country outweighed their fears put on a uniform and went. Those who did not feel so constrained stayed home, made the laws, made money, and had children. Many of those who went did not come back. We lost who knows how many Nobel Prize winners, how many leaders of our nation, how many who might have found the answers to rampant diseases and the social ills that drag us down this day?
Recently I spent an exorbitant time in front of my television due to an illness. That week one particular channel was running movies such as “Mr. Roberts,” and “Tora Tora Tora.” There were more of that genre, but I’ll make my point with those two.
It occurred to me that those the nation looks up to today are of the character of the ship’s captain in the movie “Mr. Roberts.” Those of the Mr. Roberts’ character are in uniform, in Iraq, Afghanistan, South Korea, the Philippines, Okinawa, Japan, and aboard the U.S. Naval ships at sea. They make up the wall that tells the world to behave itself, that potential bullies and enemies will get a bloody nose if they cross the line.
But like that posturing, barely military ship’s captain, today we have men and women in positions of power who cut the ground out from under those committed young men and women in uniform. These people would “go easy” on our enemies, those who specifically have targeted us. They would give amnesty to those who break American law and enter the country illegally. They would meet with our enemies in ill-advised counsel, announcing to our enemies that there are gaps in our line, soft spots in our protective wall, ways around the “no-negotiation-with-terrorists” standing of our elected leadership.
Such people are not acting in the mode of Mr. Roberts. They care little for the safety, security or well-being of those in uniform, the cream of America’s youth. For if they did, they would stand united with our President, with those who lead our military forces; they would not be playing footsy with our enemies and those who support them. Those who are digging tunnels under our wall of protection, those who are passing out keys to the gates that keep us safe, those who are assuming the mantel of leadership that doesn’t belong to them, history will judge them to be the Benedict Arnolds, the self-serving weak links that led to the erosion of that once bastion of liberty, America.
The movie “Tora Tora Tora” was the very model of a modern major super power where the ship of state is sabotaged not by deliberate treason but by useful idiots more concerned with their individual welfare than what is about to happen to their nation. It was only the dastardly, backstabbing nature of the Japanese attack that solidified the national response. Natural leaders came to the fore. The young men of America could not get into uniform fast enough. Luckily for America, the enemy also had their useful idiots so America had time to build up, respond in kind, and turn the tide for liberty.
My friend is probably right. Not only would that not happen on the same level now as in World War II, it has not happened. The American people, in spite of the initial outpouring of emotion and outrage over the horrible attack by terrorists on Sept. 11, 2001, have not rushed to man the ramparts. Instead, they have allowed the focus of their outrage to be splintered and fractured by those who would use America’s problems to build their own thrones of power; national self deprecation, immigration, health care, financial mismanagement, homelessness, crime, and on and on.
Indeed, why this loss of focus? Maybe my friend is right when he suggests, “We are now being subjected to the votes of the children of 4Fs, druggies, and deadbeats from the Beat Generation.”
I am 66 years old. I remember with extreme clarity the rugged individualism for which Americans were once known. Out of that sense of self security and confidence came strong opinions and decisions. Now we need a group to gain consensus. We have lost the experiential knowledge that a camel is a horse put together by committee.
But that’s not why I write this. That merely shines a light on what I believe everyone knows but doesn’t want to admit. None dare call it treason.
No, I write because as a man who wore America’s military uniform for 27 years, with a wife who wore her nation’s uniform, a man with two sons who wore military uniforms – one is still in uniform – I have a special place in my heart for those who stand on that wall at night saying, “Not on my watch.” They deserve more from us than discordant voices from those who sent them on their mission in the first place.
Read the emails and letters and media quotes from those outstanding representatives of American will and you will see they have a clear vision of what needs to be done in their theater of operations. If the enemy is not stopped there, the enemy will be in America’s streets and backyards and government buildings next. They know they must stop them there. They want to stop them there. They deserve our support.
Our military men and women know what they are doing. They understand the stakes are life and death, not just for them, but life and death for those they love back home. Why do we back home have such a hard time understanding that? How long will we lack the focus to train our national will on the first problem first? The enemy must be stopped. Our military has the weapons and the training and the will to stop them.
Do we here at home?
Because if we do, we need to take charge and tell those stabbing our troops in the back, and those who are products of the “children of 4Fs, druggies, and deadbeats from the Beat Generation,” to shut up and sit down. When will we do that? Out sons and daughters in uniform want to know. They deserve to know! We owe it to the Andrew Sterns who gave us all they have. Take a stand for liberty and freedom. Andrew did.