Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Heroes Not Hostages

On January 17, 2004 George W. Bush met with Staff Sergeant Michael McNaughton at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. McNaughton lost his leg to a mine in Afghanistan a year before. Both men have a passion for exercise and jogging so Bush invited McNaughton for a jog when he recovered. In April 2004, the Sergeant had his run with the President. “It rained a little bit. I didn’t care if it was storming or lightning all around, I didn’t care. It was nice to run with him,” McNaughton said, ”this goes back to my military training. I never once stopped something and said I can’t do it or quit. Just because I lost my leg, why should I start now?”

Army Specialist Chad Snowden was shot through the head in Fallujah on November 13, 2004. The sniper’s bullet entered just above Snowden’s left eyebrow and exited the right side of his head. By some grace, the damage was minimal and the medical care he received was great. Snowden plans to attend the University of Texas. In a letter to his mother, Spc. Snowden wrote that “he felt he was where he needed to be.”

On April 5, 2005, President Bush presented Sergeant Paul Ray Smith’s 11 year-old son with his Medal Of Honor: “With complete disregard for his own life, and under constant enemy fire, Sgt Smith rallied his men and led a counterattack. From a completely exposed position, he killed as many as 50 enemy soldiers as he protected his men...Sgt Smith continued to fire until he took a fatal round.” Birgit Smith had this to say: “Paul’s action two years ago speaks louder than any words ever could, for that was simply the man Paul truly was – always putting others before himself...I know the pain their families suffer, so I want to reach out to them and let them know their loved ones are not forgotten. Every one of our soldiers deserve the title of hero for they too have answered a noble calling.”

Army Specialist Casey Sheehan died in Iraq. His parents, Cindy and Patrick Sheehan, met with President Bush in April 2004. Now, Cindy is in Crawford, Texas, leading anti-war protests. Many anti-war groups support Cindy, but her family does not. Her husband has filed for divorce and her extended family has written an open letter to the media: “The Sheehan Family lost our beloved Casey in the Iraq War and we have been silently, respectfully grieving. We do not agree with the political motivations and publicity tactics of Cindy Sheehan. She now appears to be promoting her own personal agenda and notoriety at the expense of her son’s good name and reputation. The rest of the Sheehan Family supports the troops, our country, and our President, silently, with prayer and respect.”

Air Force Captain Derek Argel was killed when his plane crashed near Baghdad on Memorial Day. He was buried in Arlington Cemetery in early August 2005. The Veterans for Peace have placed his name on a cross in what they call “Arlington West,” a Santa Barbara beach anti-war display of crosses bearing the names of soldiers who have died in Iraq. The Veterans for Peace have moved their display to Crawford, Texas, to take advantage of the media hype for Cindy Sheehan. When Debbie Argel Bastian, mother of Capt. Derek Argel, learned of the display she wanted her son’s name removed, saying: “I’m livid about it...Derek would not want to be remembered this way.” As reported by the Los Angeles Times, “The group won’t remove Argel’s cross, but might move it out of the front row in deference to Bastian, said Lane Anderson, a Veterans for Peace member.”

Christy Ferer lost her husband, Neil Levin, in the World Trade Centers. Debra Burlingame’s brother was a pilot on American Airlines Flight 77 which crashed into the Pentagon. Bill Butler’s son, Tom, was a firefighter. Dennis O’Berg’s son was a fireman, too. John Vigiano had two sons, one a fireman and the other a NYPD detective. If you’re guessing all their children died at the WTC, you are correct. On December 15, 2004, this entourage visited Walter Reed and Bethesda hospitals. Ferer summed up their message to the wounded veterans of Afghanistan and Iraq best: “We personally think you’re there avenging us and doing the right thing...There has been so much controversy about this war, so let me be perfectly clear - - this is the right war at the right time for the right reasons, and you’re our heroes.”

The protestors we see on the sidewalks with their “Bring Them Home” signs don’t really care about our soldiers. The activists with the “No More Hostages” placards were never overly concerned about the hostages of the terrorists - some went so far as to suggest the victims deserved their torture for going to Iraq in the first place. The black-clad “Mothers of Iraq” in their over-size costumes never protested the violent and all-too-frequent rapes of Iraqi women, they never demanded the closing of Hussein’s Rape Hotels. Where was the compassion for the children of Hallabjah when they were murdered?

These opportunistic ‘humanitarians’ are remarkably silent at human rights abuses occurring around the world when they aren’t American. Abu Grhaib was just a pleasure palace when Saddam Hussein was there cutting off hands, arms, and legs, or using a blow-torch to cook a prisoner alive, or drowning prisoners. Let an American strip a terrorist or put a dog leash on them and it’s a human rights abuse. To those who say “War Is Never The Answer,” I say tell that to the survivors of the Nazi or Japanese death camps. Since they are so adamant that war is not the answer, wouldn’t it be nice if one of them finally explained what their answer actually is?

It is ignorance and political agenda that drives the anti-war protestors. Intentionally avoiding any information that disagrees with a preconceived notion is ignorance. Sacrificing one’s integrity for political gain is agenda. The Veterans for Peace say all that needs to be said; their political statement is more important than the wishes of a veteran’s mother and more important than that veteran’s memory. ‘The enemy of my enemy is my friend,’ is an ancient proverb. Likewise, ‘the friend of my enemy is my enemy.’ In his doctrine of preemption, President Bush made it clear that the United States would go after the terrorists and anyone who supports them. I am not suggesting that anti-war protestors be punished, they have the right to protest; however, they should not whine and complain when they are recognized as the supporters of terrorism that they are.

If the anti-war protestors got their way, the terrorists would win. Before the US withdrawal the coalition troops would be recalled and shortly after the US withdrawal, just as it happened in Vietnam, the terrorists will kill all opposition and install a Taliban-like regime in Iraq. Having defeated the US again, as they did in Mogadishu, at the Khobar Towers, and on the USS Cole, the terrorists will again begin staging attacks on US citizens around the world and within the United States. If the protestors win, our soldiers will not die on foreign soil, but they, their families, and the rest of us will die here on US soil.

Consider for a moment Specialist Crystal Terrell-Young, who was severely injured in a vehicle accident. Spc Terrell-Young was at Walter Reed at the same time Staff Sergeant Michael McNaughton. Spc. Terrell-Young was not serving in Afghanistan or Iraq when she was injured, she was serving in Bosnia. Unlike Saddam Hussein, whose threats to the US are very well-documented, Slobbodan Milosevic was a threat to no one outside of eastern Europe. President Bill Clinton had no problem unilaterally sending our troops to fight in that foreign war without authorization of the United Nations and without any coalition of nations. The anti-war protestors did not protest this action then, nor do they now. There are no candlelight vigils for the nearly forgotten soldiers there. Bosnia puts the lie to the anti-war protests and the respect and admiration the protestors hold for President Clinton exposes their political agenda.

Disclaimer: FOX News was not used as a source for any information or opinions in this letter.


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