January 15, 2005
Coffee and conversation
I'm sitting in a small coffeehouse in Corvallis where the coffee is good and there are people around. Generally, I enjoy the lively conversation and various viewpoints that typify life in a college town. Not tonight.
For the past 20 minutes, I've listened to a conversation where an earnest young man is explaining to the young woman sitting across the table why the resistance in Iraq isn't really terrorism, it's just the normal reaction of citizens who resent the invasion of their homeland. And how our troops react to bullets by indiscrimately shooting in the direction of the shots. Just mowing 'em down.
The subject changed after I stood up and introduced myself as a Marine Mom with a deployed son. It is a very good thing for this young man - who is able to sit in a free country, secure in the knowledge that he can spew forth his opinions without fear of being dragged out in the street and executed by thugs sent by the dictator of his country or having his tongue cut out as a warning for others - that this Marine mom doesn't get to choose who her son protects and defends. Some folks aren't worth defending. Honestly.
I had a similar conversation in Salem recently with a folksinger who is evidently stuck in the sixties. It was a pleasant evening and I was enjoying the music when he announced that the next song was in "honor" of a certain son-of-a-Bush and lauched into a takeoff of Country Joe's anti war anthem, "Feel Like I'm Fixin' To Die Rag''. After he finished slamming our president and the troops who are bringing democracy to Iraq, I walked over and introduced myself as the mother of a Marine who was at that moment in Iraq, one Marine in a long line of Marines who have given their sweat, blood and - in some cases - their lives, fighting for his right to sit here and sing snarky songs about the commander in chief. Just thought he'd want to know. Talk about a deer-in-the-headlights look.
There is a time for silence. And there is a time to speak out. I seem to find myself doing that often these days.
Anyway, for an accurate look at one of the many reasons why we're in Iraq right now and what we're accomplishing, read this excerpt from last week's update on security for the elections to be held later this month in Iraq. Speaking is Army Major General Peter Chiarelli, commander of the Multinational Division in Baghdad and the CG of the 1st Cavalry Division:
Today we stand just a few weeks away from historic elections in Iraq. The choices made by Iraqis will set the course for generations to come. The stark differences the Iraqi people face between the insurgent enemy and the prospect of a democratic future are indisputable.
Freedom. Progress. Life without fear. That's what we have here in America. Why should Iraqis settle for less? Here are snippets from a Washington Post interview with a few Iraqis at a coffee house on the other side of the world.
"Going to the polling stations is a victory for the Iraqi people," said Ali Danif, a 45-year-old writer.
Danif, Karim and Yassin, friends who gather every Thursday at the cafe, smiled as they talked about the vote. Like others, they knew little about the candidates, the parties or their platforms. But they celebrated what the elections represent.
From his mouth to God's ear.
Posted by Deb at January 15, 2005 10:19 PM
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Deb - good for you for speaking out! find that most people that speak ill of our soldiers or the war don't know what they are talking about if you challenge them. Maybe you made a few of them stop and THINK for a change. GOOD FOR YOU!
Posted by: Kathleen A at January 16, 2005 05:18 AM
THANK YOU for speaking up! I'm not a mom, I don't have a child serving in the armed forces - but if I did, watch out. I am very impatient with all the anti-military crap I encounter on a daily basis. I live in Portland, Oregon and believe me, it's a challenge. I'm an AF brat (my dad was in Vietnam) and I love and support our military. Thank you for your son's sacrifice and for your own. Every time you speak up, I am with you in spirit, seconding everything you say. I love your site and check in every day. Semper Fi.
Posted by: Jaymie at January 16, 2005 02:53 PM
I have to second Jaymie's reactions and attitude.
Deb, what a beautiful post! You have made me cry--for what you have to listen to, for ignorant people who can't see what's in front of their faces, and for the beauty of courageous Iraqis who are planning to make their first steps towards true freedom. Thank you for having the courage to be a Marine Mom and to stand up to the ignorant. You go, girl!
I am honored by the service of both your Marine AND YOU. Thank you.
Posted by: Beth at January 16, 2005 06:07 PM
Go getem Deb!! Hopefully you gave them something to think about anyway, would love to have been there! Shane would be proud.
Posted by: anita at January 16, 2005 11:53 PM
You confuse real talk about a bad war with disdain for our armed forces. They are separate issues. Channel your anger at the handful of people responsible for starting this war. Your child is over there representing our country. That's honorable. The reasons he was sent there are not. Not remotely. In hindsight, that point is crystal clear.
Posted by: Sigh at January 17, 2005 04:44 PM
You go girl. I have over heard several conversations among people also and as soon as I say "My son is over there not only fighting for them, he is also there to help rid the world of those who would love to kill or beat you to death just because you are an American," they shut up. I have no patience for these people. They talk about the soldiers and what they hear like the prison crap, etc. Well there are a few bad pennies in every group. What about Enron and all the corporate officers who screw their own neighbors and family. They sit in fluffy prisons because they have the stolen money to pad their way while our soldiers sleep in dirt, under vehicles, on hard floors and have to endure outrageous conditions. They have to over come feelings of despair, guilt, loneliness, hate, rejection and the fact that someone wants to kill them because they are Americans. I am here to tell the 35 guys I write to and send packages to that they are doing great things for freedom in the world.
"Sigh" if you can't sign your own name then shut up. My son is there, and he was ordered by the President to go there. He volunteered to serve his country and keep his family free if it meant his own life. Who do you have over there? Have you every read the sign that says "My son is over in IRAQ so your son can go to college!" Well I've made up a new one, "My son is in IRAQ so you can continue to flap your lips!" If you prefer to let terrorists kill Americans, then maybe your in the wrong country. Without us trying to rid the world of terrorists, then you wouldn't be able to speak your opinions about others. Possibly you prefer to live in terror all your life because one man may not have had the guts to say that we will not live our lives in fear from others. So we went after not just one but many who paid and protected these terrorist. Notice how they keep running from country to country and prey on the common citizens in these countries. They don't need a reason, they just kill and torture because they don't care about anyone but themselves and the money and power! What would you do if a terrorist knocked on your door someday but our MARINES decided you may not be the right person to save. Would that be good reason? Maybe right now it doesn't matter who sent them over or why, maybe we need to let them know that they are doing great things for the world. Maybe you should just do something to show them you support them. The majority of these people who view this website have done tremendous things to show we support out troops. They need letters and packages from home to show we love them, think of them daily, pray for them and that everyone supports their efforts. Let's not turn this in to Vietnam again with the protests and the "Make Love Not War" crap. I've been there and hated it then too. My brother, husband and alot of friends and family were involved there, they got to listen all the time how American didn't support them over there. These guys need to know they are making a difference in the lives of those people and continuing the effort of keeping our freedom intact. I for one do not need you to tell me my son is there for the wrong reason. He is there for one thing--our freedom, so his family can sleep peacefully at night, practice their faith, work towards their dreams, and live in peace. My opinion is you would like "God" taken out our country completely too. He's the one who put you here, maybe for the wrong reason. I'll be sure to watch the next Presidential elections, make sure you let us know who you are so we can be sure not to vote for you. Sounds like you think you can do a better job. Go for it!
Posted by: Sandy A at January 17, 2005 08:32 PM
This is engaging. I am fascinated by this site. Every time I post a comment I feel quite a bit of anxiety. My few friends caution me, "Jeremy, you do realize that you are talking smack to United States Marines?!!!"
I'll be frank, I don't like Bush, I don't like this war, but I love the Marine Corps. In fact, I would be more than willing to fight with the Marines in Iraq under Bush if given the chance. My situation is a bit complex (read "need waivers") but look for me in June or July when I make my final attempt to get on board. I am twenty-seven, so I have to hurry, but my plan is to focus on the 300 PFT and give that and a college degree to the recruiter and see if he can pick the rust out of the cogs of the mundane bureacracy (sp?).
I think "sigh" has a valid point--to a degree. The problem with discussing this with people actively involved in this effort is that the psychological involvement is different for them than us 'key-board warriors.' A soldier at war if concerned with the wellfare of his men followed by his own survival. Vicariously, the family members of that soldier will follow suit in their support of him. There is not a lot of effort put into digging for information that may challenge the noble effort at hand. Therefore, the family members here are responding emotionally, which is appropriate and healthy. But NEVER must the LEADERS confuse emotional subjectivity with logical objectivity. And I think this is what they have done (speaking of the Administration; not the Marine Corps).
My qualms with the Iraq engagement are directed toward my government, a government that I will ultimately die for to preserve, but a government that I will gripe and bitch about nonetheless while a CIVILIAN.
So, if I do gain entry into the Corps, then you can expect that my comments such as this will cease, at least publically. The Marine Corps is more than a job, it is an all encompassing focus aimed at the preservation of our free society. If I become a Marine, my focus will be on mission accomplishment and troop wellfare. But I will vow this to all Americans. Never will I discount an American dissenter. My policy will be to simply thank that critic for his opinion, as is his right, and then get back to work so that everybody can keep complaining. In the end, if every American is bitching then this is still a free country. I don't think a good Marine would have it any other way.
Posted by: Mattson at January 18, 2005 03:30 PM
I would like to point out a typo error on my above comment:
The sentence: "A soldier at war if concerned with the wellfare of his men..." should read "A soldier at war is concerned with the wellfare of his men..."
I don't want anyone to read that wrong because I can see how the error could be interpreted as an insult, which it definitely is not...
Posted by: Mattson at January 18, 2005 04:11 PM
I like you Mattson, make sure you let us know when you become a Marine. Good luck, we'll want to keep tabs on you. Yeah, I do get a little emotional (well maybe pissed) at certain discussions. Sorry, thanks for putting me in check. Semper Fi!
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