What to say to our troops?
Firepower 5 has written a great article about how it feels to be deployed away from his family, go home on “R & R,” and then have to leave again to go back to the “front.” Of course I can never fully understand all he and our troops have gone through in this conflict or any other. But when he reminiscences about how his present feelings remind him of Basic Training, I can fully understand those feelings.
“Like a certain smell that evokes memories of childhood, the touches of sadness bring to mind with crystalline clarity the waves of depression and homesickness that used to sweep over me like clockwork in the late afternoons twenty years ago as I struggled through the catharsis that is Basic Training.”
I was so moved by Firepower’s comments I got rather carried away with my own comments. For some time now I have wanted to write something to our troops here to say how I feel about them and the teriffic job they have been doing in Iraq and Afghanistan! So I decided to share my comments on his post with you all. So go to his blog and read his comments first, then read my reply:
“As I read your blog and those of other troops I am often reminded of another time and another war. There is such a stark difference between soldiers now and soldiers during Vietnam. There was so much animosity shown the troops, then. They rarely discussed their true feelings about what they did and why.
There were plenty of jokes about killing “gooks” and the “Mama sans,” the drunken antics, the drug abuse. It was almost like many of them felt this was expected of them; and, for many, it was their only release.
The haunted look in many of their young eyes when they returned after their 14 month tours was what struck me most. Then there were the ones that couldn’t be startled from sleep because they came up fighting, ready to kill. There were the one’s who never talked. They just kept it all inside. So much could have been so different for them all had someone occasionally shook their hands, stood up and applauded them as they came and went at the airport terminals.
Even I hated to wear anything military off base or discuss the military.
I hated to see the draft cards and flag burned. I hated the names they called the guys.
But that was another time and another war. We didn’t know then that we were in the middle of a “civil war.” That knowledge came later. We weren’t attacked here at home, or repeatedly attacked elsewhere in the world. And, though many European countries had much to say about us being there, they all seemed to forget that many of them caused what happened there with their imperialism and failure to let go of old colonial empires though the people wanted to be free.
As I read about us being an occupier and imperialists and our readiness to jump into any war I am often angered. Some of these countries, France in particular, still hold the reins in many nations. But they wear UN symbols on their uniforms, yet are they most out spoken about our efforts.
But we don’t occupy, at least not in an imperialistic manner. At least not in the true sense of the word. We do have some territories from WW II for strategic purposes, islands. But once we got Japan on its feet again with a new government that was representative of all Japanese, we left their country. We are now allies and friends. I don’t doubt that on both sides there aren’t some bad memories. But, we have gotten past that.
We helped rebuild the European nations and their economy under the Marshall plan. Though it benefits us too, we have bases all over Europe. But, if asked to leave, we would do just that!
None of the European Nations was left in any shape to handle the Communist threat when Russia, under Stalin, made its aggressive moves. Russia could have been stopped then, but I think the fear and shock of the two bombs we dropped on Japan to end the war, shocked us and Europe. I don’t think anyone really realized what we were unleashing.
We have embarrassed ourselves with our interference in the South American and Central American countries. Likewise in the Middle East we have done the same thing. But, we learn from our mistakes.
We honestly don’t want to occupy any other country. And, finally, this time, we are doing it all right.
We are giving our troops the respect they deserve. We are fighting back before we are attacked again. Unlike so many European countries that still think appeasement and negotiation will always work, we have learned it won’t, much as we might wish it so.
You cannot negotiate with terrorists and fanatics. But as we take the fight to the enemy, we are also helping the countries so long subjugated by evil people become free, self governing nations. No other country has ever done this before that I am aware of, not even us.
And who is doing all the hard work, the fighting and rebuilding as we go.? Our troops. The best damn army of men and women in the world,. Possibly the best ever of any country. I say this because you troops have fought the war, but you have held on to your humanity. You have remembered to be watchful and compassionate of the every day people in Iraq and Afghanistan. You have given them back their dignity, one step at a time.
Maybe in that other time we might have done the same thing had the support from home been there. But, I don’t think so! I think much has to do with having an all volunteer military. Much has to do with the marked increase in the average educational level of our military both in the non-comm ranks and the officer ranks.
There is much that the rest of us can learn from our troops about honesty, integrity, duty, and honor. There is also much we can learn about sacrifice by you troops and your families.
God Bless you all Thank you for your sacrifices and those of your families.
Like the song says, ” You gotta believe in something!” I believe in you all.”