A Marine Died in Iraq Today
A Marine died is Iraq today and I donít even know his name. That is a critical missing fact I couldnít obtain today. I tried, switching to every channel and back again it just wasnít being reported. We will suffice to say he was some motherís son. I hold life very dear and I mourn for the familyís loss. It is a war and in war young men die, yet it still affected me very deeply. I couldnít get it out of my head.
I thought of what ran through that young manís mind just the day before. Was he thinking of his family? His mother and father, his brother or sister, his wife or girlfriend, his children? Was he thinking of an old car back home that he wanted to fix up when he returned? Maybe he was thinking of attending college and becoming a doctor. I just couldnít shake the thought, it kept coming back. His whole life before him, he was every motherís son, brother, husband or father out in the desert of a foreign country doing what his country asked of him. Being a Marine I am sure he was doing it well, they donít know any other way. I had never experienced pride and fear as one emotion before, you see my son is a Marine now, stationed out in the desert.
Then it came to me; a recent letter from my son connected the dots that raced through my mind. They donít get much news out in the middle of the desert where they are stationed. Much of it is in fragmented pieces, not really the undivided story. In his letter home he asked me if "America hated them?" They had heard of peace marches and rallies all over the world. It made the headlines and it was a portion of what they received, again not the whole story but it made them think. In my response letter to him I tried to make sense of it as best as I could, you see I donít completely understand it myself.
I told him that while I watched a peace march on television they stopped a fellow to interview him. The young man was carrying a sign that said, "War is not the answer." The reporter asked him "What is the answer", a good question I thought. The reply was uttered without a momentís thought, "I donít know." Not the answer I expected but it was the truth as far as this young man was concerned. You see, I told him, I put a lot of those people in the same category, they will protest anything. I mean there are just an assortment of people who will protest and carry banners, right or wrong they like to march. Of course, that is their privilege after all that is one of the many things you are fighting for. I tried to explain to him that it's a major characteristic of the Bill of Rights, freedom of speech.
I explained that there is no impetus to believe that the various passions associated with a war will cause people to change their minds. I told him of the "loud minority" who perform to the media and of the "silent majority" of decent, hard-working patriotic Americans who support our President and our troops. I told him there has always been dissent, and that dissension must be protected if American freedoms are going to be protected, they go hand in hand.
I tried to explain to him that Americans need to stop detesting one another to the point where some truly like it, we need to try if only for a moment. And that bashing America has become a high art form, something to ascend to not only throughout the world but also in our own country. Maybe we should at least postpone our disagreements out of respect for the young men and women who will be risking their lives for our ability to do so. I mean after all it was the soldier who provided us that ability. I told him that what one person perceives as honest protest, another will identify as treason. While what one person perceives as patriotism, another will perceive as blind faith. I told him he couldnít win this argument and it was probably best not to try.
The insults that were inflicted on returning veterans of Vietnam, many of them just his age, barely past their teens still rears its ugly head to this day. Would they spit on him he asked? He learned about that in high school and he remembered it. What a dreadful thing to be thinking of at that young age.
I told him to try to put it out of his mind; he has more important things to think about at this moment in time. I told him not to worry if America hated him as it wasnít true, actually America loved him. Many of us may not want to say it out loud but he and his fellow Marines, soldiers, sailors and airmen are all Americaís children; sons and daughters, brothers and sisters, husbands and wives. You see I found out that the individual name really didnít matter, we had all lost one dear to us. Last but not least I told him that I still loved him and always would, regardless of what America thought.
Thatís when it finally hit me, I hope that young Marine wasnít thinking if America hated him, he deserved better.
Frank Trzaska 2003
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