Ode to a soldier

Though I do not believe that the morale of our troops is anywhere near the peat-bog levels that the media would have us believe, I do worry that somewhere in Iraq, there is a soldier, perhaps eighteen, nineteen years old, that despises what he is doing. Not so much because he believes it is wrong or because he is afraid, but because he’s heard the lies of Michael Moore or watched John Stewart on the Daily Show take his easy shots at our president and America’s overseas efforts. So this is for you, soldier-with-a-broken-heart, and for the young man or woman that thinks he’s sacrificing for a lost cause. If any of you know a soldier overseas, fighting against apocalyptic terrorism, and if you think my writing worthy, please send him or her this article and be sure they know that buried deep within the United States’ heartland, an iron will remains; a will purified in our own past crucibles–a will that cannot ever be shattered at its roots.

Soldier in a dry, alien land, every day you awaken and do your duty. Patrolling buzzing streets and alleys, an enemy in every face, a friend in every place. A man stares too long. Is he merely interested in your strange garb? Or perhaps he’s considering what he was taught in childhood about devil-Americans–reconsidering maybe. There’s a tightness in your jaw, I think, when you walk the roads. You don’t even notice it until you’re back at base, when an ache settles into muscles, reminding you that your life is at stake the whole day, every day. You are thankful that you have your comrades to rely on, to wade the uncertainty of the next day by your side

You had the will to walk to a recruiting station, whether it was because you are a patriot or because you saw few other options for yourself is of little matter, because you didn’t give up, you knew that you had to better yourself and that is a truly American spirit.

Doubt may have crept into your mind when you watch the news broadcast from your homeland. The cynical, selectively chosen quotes and bits, the ramblings of demagogues and intellectuals, doing little, expounding much.

Do not lose, ever, your faith in the rightness of your work. You are right, Al-Qaeda is wrong. Terrorists playing to their biggest ally–the media camera–are with forethought, committing the vilest of atrocities, and grandstanding before the world and their hateful god, in hopes that their display is glorious enough to guarantee paradise.

How can you know for sure that you are good? Listen, I saw a picture some two days ago. Somewhere in Baghdad a car bomb had just exploded and a photographer caught the instant of chaos in the explosion’s wake. A young boy, eight, maybe nine, wearing bright blue sweatpants, had huddled himself behind a US soldier. That, my friend, is how you can know. You can always see the fate and sentiments of a nation in its children. The Iraqis want you there. The children know that you are peace’s sentinel, not an army bent on their subjugation. These children are the future of peace; before their heedless eyes, in you, is held the possibility of lion sprawling with lamb.

Remember, victory is always possible. It will happen, as long as your will does not wane like many of our comfortable folk here, shopping in their malls, enjoying movies and restaurants and pining away about the atrocities of war. You will, to be sure, come away from this ordeal with the sharpest view of honor, dedication, sacrifice, and what it means to never give in to evil.

There is shame in me that I am saying this from the safety of my home. Really, I have little more right to say anything with any force, than do those who oppose the Iraq mission. After all, here I am in the greatest country ever, enjoying the ultimate in freedom and possibilities. And there you are, fighting against a vicious enemy. The only reason that I write this is so you never lose that most powerful force of the human heart: Hope.

Come home to your families in one piece.

4 Responses to “Ode to a soldier”

  1. 1 Kernunos
    August 13, 2007 at 2:37 am

    Very moving. Your observation of the childrens actions in Iraq in the face of danger is and awe inspiring sign of light at the end of the tunnel. The same children that see safety behind an American soldier are the generations to come in Iraq who will not be filled with the same preconceptions of Americans as their forefathers. They are the witnesses to every hero from the “Land of the Free”. These children are the future of Iraq and bring me ,uch encouragement that progress has been made and we have done the right thing. God Bless America and God Bless our troops.

  2. 2 DeVaughn
    August 24, 2007 at 5:57 am

    Not only was your article moving…but healing as well. As a mother whose son is in Iraq, I say thank you. My son has called once, after he got hurt and they pulled him back for two weeks, and vented how he was feeling to me. I spoke with an individual who is former military and this person’s response “It doesn’t sound like your son is a good soldier.” Since then I have felt the deepest of daggars..until your article. Not only do you portray hope and support for the troops but for the families as well. Your words have started the healing of a wound…thank you.

  3. 3 How You Doin Blondie
    April 16, 2008 at 2:04 pm

    You always manage to find the right words, Doug.

    It’s nice to know I’m not the only one who feels/felt guilty for taking the “easy” way out. Unfortunately, you’re leaving for basic training in a week, leaving me in Shameville, population 1. Sigh. Sgt.Moore, be a little less noble, would ya?

  4. April 16, 2008 at 2:17 pm

    Do what you can, where you can, Suzie. Everyone can contribute in a different way. And not just by pulling triggers, but also with words of edification…

    “The strong do what they can, and the weak suffer what they must.”~ Thucydides

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