[freedomtowernight_edited.jpg] 26th Parallel: Nobody Said War Was Easy

Sunday, August 14, 2005

Nobody Said War Was Easy

Several news items this weekend have made me think a bit about the war in Iraq. One of them is the well-publicized vigil by Cindy Sheehan in Crawford, TX. Another was a column written by new Herald columnist Ana Menendez.

The subject of Menendez's column is Iraq war veteran Jimmy Massey, a Marine. Massey was stationed in Baghdad shortly before the city's takeover, and was witness to an attack on a car heading toward a checkpoint:

"When a red Kia approached, Massey's men opened fire. They'd done it before with other cars, and as before, when they checked the car they found no weapons. ``These were civilians.'' Three of the young men in the car were hit, but the driver walked out unscathed. 'He kept asking, `Why did you shoot, why did you shoot my brother, why?' '' Massey recalled. ``He was running around frantically asking my Marines, `Why, why?'

Twenty minutes later, the medical corpsmen just dumped the other bodies on the side of the road. And he lost it. This guy wasn't a terrorist. He looked like a college kid. I watched him pick up what must have been his brother's head and he was just rocking and weeping. Then he stood. He knew I was in charge and he started toward me. I thought, this guy is going to choke me. But he just lifted one finger at me and in perfect English said: `You did this. You killed my brother.' ''And that's when I just lost it,'' Massey said. 'That's when I said, `What are we doing?' ''

A horrible experience, no doubt about that.

I'm no stranger to awful war stories all my life. I was never in the military, but my father served in Vietnam and was wounded in action. This happened when I was a mere 2 months old. My father was fortunate to survive a booby trap that was set off by the soldiers at the front of the convoy, and my father was farther back, receiving shrapnel in his knee. Others in his platoon weren't so lucky. I remember my father recalling that first night in the infirmary where he could hear the screams of agony from his mates who were at the front of the line. They didn't survive.

Several of my dad's friends who also fought in Vietnam have similar stories. One of my dad's long-time friends lost a leg. I understand the cruelties of war.

Fortunately, my dad does not suffer any mental trauma as a result of the war. However, Massey is suffering from depression and high blood pressure as a result of his experience. That is understandable.

What I don't understand is his subsequent reaction. According to Menendez, Massey returned with "the conviction that what we're doing there amounts to genocide".

''We talk about smart weapons and I don't believe it,'' he said. ``I saw the brutality. The only word I can think of to describe it is genocide. We're exterminating Iraqis. We're exterminating a whole culture.''

Surely, a 12-year veteran of the Marines must know that this is not about genocide. Any reasonable person knows that. Do people make mistakes in wars? Sure. But to imply that the goal of the war is to exterminate a group of people is just ridiculous.

This is exactly the kind of statement that the MSM loves to jump on. Someone who suffered a traumatic experience and who's suffering from a mental disorder is qualified to make a statement about the war in Iraq. A war where people such as Cindy Sheehan's son lose their lives fighting for what they believe in.

Massey decided to take his experiences on the road. He spoke recently in Coral Gables to a group of 30 people, including members of Grassroots Miami, a liberal organization which is organizing a "Support Cindy Sheehan" rally in downtown Miami tomorrow afternoon. Jimmy Massey is scheduled to attend.

I can't even begin to understand Cindy Sheehan's pain. But there's obviously something strange about her vigil outside President Bush's ranch. Last year, she met with Bush and walked away with nothing but good feelings. Now she decides she wants to speak with Bush again, this time accusing him of lying and killing her son and the others who have died in Iraq. Even members of her own family are speaking out against the vigil.

I have no problem with people, especially veterans and/or family members, who are against the war, even if I don't personally agree with them. What I don't like are the unjust accusations of "liar" and "murderer" being hurled at President Bush. They discredit everything those people stand for. Of course, the MSM doesn't see it that way.

My father and his veteran friends understood that war isn't easy. But you'll never hear them bad mouth the war in Iraq. War is not a pleasant experience. Bad things happen. But it's the overall purpose that matters. If you need proof of this, check out this entry in Dean's World from an Iraqi blogger who posted a response to Cindy Sheehan.

Contrast the words from Mohammed in Iraq to seasoned war veteran Ana Menendez, who finished her column with these words:

"For a long time, many have believed that the soldiers who returned from the war proud of their service were testament to all the good things we have brought to Iraq. Some day we'll come to understand that the broken lives of soldiers like Massey testify with equal force to the horror of what we've done."

God bless our troops.


Blogger Sirimba said...

Great post. War is not easy. Standing up for the greater good is never easy. I believe that all people understand that in their guts; they know freedom is not free. But that is what we are doing in Iraq – providing a better future for those people and that area. What the US has done can already be felt in the east. Look at Lybia, those people felt empowered to take control of their destiny. At some level they must have been affected with the hope of democracy in the regime. It is almost ridiculous to call for a complete and immediate pull out of the military forces in the region. This would only create my tragedy.
I can only imagine what people like Marine Massey or Cindy Sheehan have gone through. They both have experienced death in a very personal and traumatic way. While I do not support their point, I support their right to speak – though I do so with caution. We must learn from our past. Many people have tried to compare this war to Vietnam. I find very little similarities, with the exception of the growing anti-war banter and lowering of troop moral. In order of this war to be successful the troops need to feel supported. What Massey is saying is not what all military personal feel. Thousands come home feeling they are doing the right thing over there, many opt to go back. I personally know of two that chose for additional tours, to support our country, to help the Iraqi people and to do their duty to fight for American ideals. God bless them and our country.

3:45 PM, August 15, 2005  

Post a Comment

<< Home