It is presumptuous for anyone – me included - to elevate themselves as spokesman for the soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines who have given their lives for our country in current wars or past conflicts. Nevertheless, with humility I’m attempting to do so. The reason that compels me to this step is the profanity with which our lost heroes are being treated by America’s enemies at home.
As repugnant as enemy behavior has been with beheadings, bombings and terrorist acts against civilians, it outrages me equally to see enemies at home – the ‘blame-America-first’ and ‘hate-Bush’ crowd – profane our casualties. They display photos of flag-draped coffins being evacuated in military aircraft – it’s the latest gimmic - in an attempt to shock America into pulling out of Iraq and abrogating our responsibility in the War on Terror.
Don’t kid yourself. Using dead soldiers is no accident. In many cases, this is done by the same people are behind this who led and participated in the anti-war movement during Vietnam, who paraded for unilateral disarmament in the face of the Soviet Union and who regularly criticize America and blame our country for every one of the world’s ill. These photos are displayed on the Internet, in magazines, and crudest of all, on T-shirts! All done in a mocking display of concern for our soldiers.
Let’s get something straight immediately: these people hate our soldiers with the same passion that they hate this country. Maybe they hate themselves too. Maybe their potty training went awry. I’ll leave that for someone else to figure out. For me – as an old infantryman with muddy boots – I see things on more basic terms. Consequently I’ll address these pinheads directly:
"You, who call yourself war protestors, are not fit to speak for these honored dead. You dishonored the memory of Ranger Pat Tillman. He was a ‘dumb jock,’ you said, who stupidly chose service to country over money. You said he got what he deserved when he died in the barren mountains of Afghanistan. You meant what you said about him and you refer to all the men and women who paid the ultimate price to keep us free in the same disparaging terms. They died for all of us – including you! But you are too arrogant and self-absorbed to appreciate their sacrifice.
"You attack the wounded. You impugn their courage and motivation, and try hard to diminish their sacrifice. You slam those who volunteer on active duty as being too stupid to get any other job, while assiduously avoiding any service yourself. You denigrate the status and service commitment of our Reservists and National Guard as somehow cheap and insincere. But you are willing to lie, cheat, steal, burn and destroy property and people’s character in order to promote your shoddy hate-America agenda.
"You, who have spent a lifetime in pampering yourself and blaming the world for your own ineffectuality, incompetence and unhappiness are unfit to speak for any of our military, living or dead. You do not even share the values that they hold precious enough to die for. You are, in the blunt words of an old soldier, not good enough to be a pimple on their posteriors. And if you find these terms offensive, good. I’ve made my point. You know where to find me."
Naturally the temptation for someone who feels strongly about this reprehensible behavior is to rip off the T-shirts, withhold the photos from being misused and profaned, and censor the photos - period. Certainly those who use them don’t consult with the families and request permission. Michael Moore in his atrocious propaganda piece even had the audacity to film a funeral at Arlington and use the film without family permission. And you wonder why I use harsh language with these people? They demean scum.
But because of the amazing nature of our country – precisely because of the importance of our basic freedoms of speech, press, religion, belief, assembly and expression – I would insist that the photos - if in the public domain – are released, even to profane use. Censorship would mean that the soldiers who paid for our basic freedoms with their lives would be even more dishonored. We should not use loss of our soldiers to diminish our precious freedoms.
Soldiers know that when America goes to war not all of our countrymen will appreciate us. Ask any Korean, Vietnam or more recent warrior and they will tell you the same story. As a people we seem to have short memories and even less gratitude. But that comes with the profession as much as boots and bayonets. Take one, take all.
These dedicated troops who risk all for us don’t ask for our gratitude. They don’t look for appreciation and certainly don’t expect any honors. But what they demand – and what is absolutely required of us as a country and a people – is our respect. And that is especially true for those who can no longer speak for themselves.