by Ed Evans, MGySgt., USMC (Ret.)
Recently I posted a video of former President George and Laura Bush meeting members of the American military returning from Afghanistan through the Dallas-Fort Worth Airport. The troops didn't know these two private citizens would be there, so it was a complete, and pleasant, surprise. George and Laura greeted them warmly, talked with them, had their pictures taken with the men and their wives, and everyone thoroughly enjoyed it. I noted that this is what a real President does.
One person responded to the video by asking why wouldn't Bush be there to welcome them home, after all, they were there because of him. When I responded that no, they were there because Americans had been murdered by terrorist attacks, and that 911 was just part of that. The response to that was that my words were "poetic and skewed." I confess I never understood the "poetic" part. However, it occurred me that this was not the first person who truly seemed to have misunderstood the danger we were in, how long that danger had been stalking us, and why our military was in Iraq and Afghanistan. And so the following response, posted here rather than targeting the original responder.
America stands practically alone among nations in having an all-volunteer military. No one is drafted or forced to serve. They volunteer for what lies ahead of them. No one wants to fight, but someone must know how, to preserve the precious light of freedom God has given us. From as far back as 1775 when the U.S. Marine Corps was formed, even before there was a colonial army, American warriors have taken the fight to the enemy. We don't want to have to fight in the streets of New York City or Chicago or L.A. You attack us, we come after you, and we fight on your ground, destroy your cities.
This war we are in began not with 911, but goes back as far as 1984 when Iranian Muslim terrorists killed more than 300 Marines when they crashed a bomb-filled truck into their barracks as they slept in Beirut, Lebanon. I had just left there and was spared, praise God.
I won't give you a history lesson, but America and Americans have been attacked many times since 1984, always by Muslim terrorists, on land, at sea, and in the air. 911 was simply the culmination of that. There is nothing poetic about war. You must go after them and stop them, or your wife, your children, your brothers and sisters, your mother and father, they all become captives to be abused, misused, and murdered. And so you go. This was not George Bush's war, this was America's reaction to the war forced upon it, to protect ourselves, our nation. The entire world needs America to survive. If there were no America, they would have to invent one to provide such humanitarian support, medical technology, labor-saving inventions, and even trained managers.
But you need to understand, as has been said before, that the soldier fights not because of what is in front of him, but because of what he left behind at home. And since we volunteered for the training to do this, we are grateful our leadership supports this fight and allows us to engage this enemy and protect our loved ones, to keep the terror away from them. No, not poetic and not skewed. Straight forward, simple logic.
If you only knew them as I do, having dealt with them first-hand, face to face, and after studying them for years, you would understand better. The soldier is not some ignorant lump who cannot do anything else. He or she is more likely well-educated, sensitive, good citizens. The worst thing about war is we often lose our best and brightest, because they understand best what is at stake. They understand very well, so they go, and they do, and many times we lose them to combat. It then becomes incumbent upon the survivors, the protected, to take their place in society, honor their sacrifice by exercising the very freedoms for which they gave their life away to protect.
War is merely the harshest extension of diplomacy. I often wished our government would field as many diplomats as they do men and women under arms, before the shooting starts. But that option is often removed from us by our enemies.
Perhaps my opening up to you from my heart on this issue will allow you to look through the eyes of the warrior, scarred for life by the blood and gore of taking the lives of persistent enemy, and nearly having your life taken, but all because you chose to be there. You made a conscious decision that it would be you, not your sons or daughters who would stand against the enemies of freedom. And if that gives you just a prescient look inside a warrior's heart, you will gain a sense of why we are appalled when people make such comments as you have made about people such as George Bush. He has been there with us in the maelstrom, held the hands of more sorrowing parents than I hope you will ever know, eaten with us, prayed with us, wept with us.
Maybe, somehow, you will gain an understanding of why I say with Job in chapter 13, verse 15, "Though he slay me, yet will I trust him." Job, of course, was talking about Almighty God. George Bush is merely a man doing his best as God gives him light to see. That's what we did. And between ourselves -- including men I know by name every day, for as long as I live, who stepped into that ring of fire to give their life for you and I -- and those of the Bush administration, we did the best we could as God gave us light to see. Those who are alive today, because of that, those who speak English today instead of Arabic Farsi, or Chinese, or something else, it would be so much more fulfilling to hear a simple "thank you", than to hear the words of our enemies parroted from your mouth, to hear a raging against those who did their best to keep you free. Which you are. But, frankly, not for long when the protected make it their lot in life to criticize, pillory and ridicule those who bought their freedom. For as we go away, and sooner or later everyone goes away, those who should take our place will have been watching, and they will not step into that ring of fire. Then all is lost.