Sgt. Arnold's funeral was today. He and another Mississippian, Terrance Lee, were both killed in Iraq when an IED went off near the vehicle they were riding in on June 11. I saw on the AP wire today that Lee was posthumously promoted to sergeant, which at first I took as an insult to Lee and a morale killer for other troops, i.e., want a sure-fire way to get that promotion--just die in battle! But now that I think about it, maybe it was something that was pending anyway and his promotion will give his family a little more money. After all, he has two young children already and his wife is expecting their first child together in September.
This kind of stuff makes me sick inside. Sgt. Arnold's wife missed his last phone call and their 28th wedding anniversary would have been in July or August and he had grandchildren, for God's sake. Sgt. Lee is more than a decade my junior--that's so odd to me for some reason.
But please, oh please can we not end this war yesterday? Even Republican Rep. Walter "Freedom Fries" Jones has had his fill. But there's too much of attitudes like Bill O'Reilly's--who said that Sen. Durbin and the employees of Air America have committed treason and should be put in chains--and this obviously anti-anti-war (I didn't want to say "pro-war," because only criminals like Bush and Cheney deserve that epithet) propaganda piece I saw on a forum today. Here's a link and here's the text in full:
I was sitting alone in one of those loud, casual steak houses that you find all over the country. You know the type--a bucket of peanuts on every table, shells littering the floor, and a bunch of perky college kids racing around with longneck beers and sizzling platters.
Taking a sip of my iced tea, I studied the crowd over the rim of my glass. My gaze lingered on a group enjoying their meal. They wore no uniform to identify their branch of service, but they were definitely "military:" clean shaven, cropped haircut, and that "squared away" look that comes with pride.
Smiling sadly, I glanced across my table to the empty seat where my husband usually sat. It had only been a few months since we sat in this very booth, talking about his upcoming deployment to the Middle East. That was when he made me promise to get a sitter for the kids, come back to this restaurant once a month and treat myself to a nice steak. In turn he would treasure the thought of me being here, thinking about him until he returned home to me.
I fingered the little flag pin I constantly wear and wondered where he was at this very moment. Was he safe and warm? Was his cold any better? Were my letters getting through to him? As I pondered these thoughts, high pitched female voices from the next booth broke into my thoughts.
"I don't know what Bush is thinking about. Invading Iraq. You'd think that man would learn from his old man's mistakes. Good lord. What an idiot! I can't believe he is even in office. You do know, he stole the election."
I cut into my steak and tried to ignore them, as they began an endless tirade running down our president. I thought about the last night I spent with my husband, as he prepared to deploy. He had just returned from getting his smallpox and anthrax shots. The image of him standing in our kitchen packing his gas mask still gives me chills.
Once again the women's voices invaded my thoughts. "It is all about oil, you know. Our soldiers will go in and rape and steal all the oil they can in the name of 'freedom'. Hmph! I wonder how many innocent people they'll kill without giving it a thought. It's pure greed, you know."
My chest tightened as I stared at my wedding ring. I could still see how handsome my husband looked in his "mess dress" the day he slipped it on my finger. I wondered what he was wearing now. Probably his desert uniform, affectionately dubbed "coffee stains" with a heavy bulletproof vest over it.
"You know, we should just leave Iraq alone. I don't think they are hiding any weapons. In fact, I bet it's all a big act just to! Increase the president's popularity. That's all it is, padding the military budget at the expense of our social security and education. And, you know what else? We're just asking for another 9-ll. I can't say when it happens again that we didn't deserve it."
Their words brought to mind the war protesters I had watched gathering outside our base. Did no one appreciate the sacrifice of brave men and women, who leave their homes and family to ensure our freedom? Do they even know what "freedom" is?
I glanced at the table where the young men were sitting, and saw their courageous faces change. They had stopped eating and looked at each other dejectedly, listening to the women talking.
"Well, I, for one, think it's just deplorable to invade Iraq, and I am certainly sick of our tax dollars going to train professional baby killers we call a military."
Professional baby killers? I thought about what a wonderful father my husband is, and of how long it would be before he would see our children again.
That's it! Indignation rose up inside me. Normally reserved, pride in my husband gave me a brassy boldness I never realized I had. Tonight one voice will answer on behalf of our military, and let her pride in our troops be known.
Sliding out of my booth, I walked around to the adjoining booth and placed my hands flat on their table. Lowering myself to eye level with them, I smilingly said, "I couldn't help overhearing your conversation. You see, I'm sitting here trying to enjoy my dinner alone. And, do you know why? Because my husband, whom I love with all my heart, is halfway around the world defending your right to say rotten things about him." "Yes, you have the right to your opinion, and what you think is none of my business. However, what you say in public is something else, and I will not sit by and listen to you ridicule MY country, MY president, MY husband, and all the other fine American men and women who put their lives on the line, just so you can have the "freedom" to complain. Freedom is an expensive commodity, ladies. Don't let your actions cheapen it." I must have been louder than I meant to be, because the manager came over to inquire if everything was all right. "Yes, thank you," I replied. Then turning back to the women, I said, "Enjoy the rest of your meal."
As I returned to my booth applause broke out. I was embarrassed for making a scene, and went back to my half eaten steak. The women picked up their check and scurried away.
After finishing my meal, and while waiting for my check, the manager returned with a huge apple cobbler ala mode. "Compliments of those soldiers," he said. He also smiled and said the ladies tried to pay for my dinner, but that another couple had beaten them to it. When I asked who, the manager said they had already left, but that the gentleman was a veteran, and wanted to take care of the wife of "one of our boys."
With a lump in my throat, I gratefully turned to the soldiers and thanked them for the cobbler. Grinning from ear to ear, they came over and surrounded the booth. "We just wanted to thank you, ma'am. You know we can't get into confrontations with civilians, so we appreciate what you did."
As I drove home, for the first time since my husband's deployment, I didn't feel quite so alone. My heart was filled with the warmth of the other diners who stopped by my table, to relate how they, too, were proud of my husband, and would keep him in their prayers. I knew their flags would fly a little higher the next day. Perhaps they would look for more tangible ways to show their pride in our country, and the military who protect her. And maybe, just maybe, the two women who were railing against our country, would pause for a minute to appreciate all the freedom America offers, and the price it pays to maintain it's freedom.
As for me, I have learned that one voice CAN make a difference. Maybe the next time protesters gather outside the gates of the base where I live, I will proudly stand on the opposite side with a sign of my own. It will simply say, "Thank You!"
(*Lori K is a 31 year old teacher and proud military wife. A California native, Mrs. K currently lives in Alabama)
To those who fought for our Nation: Freedom has a flavor the protected will never know. GOD BLESS AMERICA.
Now this little tearjerker was posted in this forum under the heading "Military Wife Speaks Out," as though it were an actual interview with an actual person. So you start reading it, and even I got drawn in, and then you forget that you thought you were hearing from a real person and it's not till it's over that you realize that it had to have been written by some gay-bashing, Bible-thumping, jingo-jango, the-military-is-great-even-when-they-torture-prisoners type of Republican propaganda group. Unless you are a member of such a group, then you think "Right on! That brave woman put those snooty college whores in their place--they think they're so goddamn smart but they don't realize they shouldn't even be allowed to say such things--or even think them! This is America!"
But the whole argument that this pile of dung is based upon is this: American soldiers are protecting the righteous conservatives as well as the ungrateful liberals by being in Iraq. The problem is, they're not protecting us.
Look, everyone understands they're just doing their job and that the nature of the military is that you follow orders and shut the fuck up. The antiwar movement has no beef with the soldiers, in fact, the antiwar movement wants the soldiers out of harm's way as soon as possible (if I may presume to speak for the antiwar movement for a hot minute). Hell, if the antiwar movement had its way, the soldiers would have never gone to war in the first place.
And that's why bullshit like that exists, because the anti-antiwar people know that their cause is helped by making people think that the antiwar movement is against the soldiers when in fact the antiwar movement is against the policy of the war. Of course, the soldiers are the tools that are used to implement the policy, but nonetheless, they are completely separate from the policy.
Of course, every time a pro-war or anti-antiwar person is on TV and is asked about 6 out of 10 people being against the war (i.e., Karl Rove on "Hardball" last night, they make sure to make their answer about the brave sacrifice of our soldiers rather than addressing whether or not the policy is wrong. For Christ's sake, it's perfectly clear and logically acceptable that you can feel sorry for the troops and wish them no ill and simultaneously realize that the war is the most vile thing ever.
And maybe that's what a lot of this Christo-fascist-yellow-magnetites are thinking, i.e., "if I speak out against the war, I'll be hurting the troops." And Rush and O'Lie-ly and Hannity and all the others have worked very hard to put that idea in people's heads--if you criticize the war, you're criticizing the troops. But of course nothing could be further than the truth. Maybe more of these pro- and anti-antiwar types will come around if we do a better job of helping them realize that critcism of the war is not even remotely close to a criticism of U.S. soldiers.