Archive for Monday, May 29, 2006

Thank a veteran for your freedom

May 29, 2006


I watched the HBO documentary "Baghdad ER," not only to see whether it lived down to the expectations of some conservatives who claimed, without seeing it, that the film would be an anti-war propaganda screed; I also wanted to be reminded of the cost of freedom.

The program was "MASH" without as much humor, though there was humor amid the blood, pain, death and grief. The documentary shows the reality of war. Viewers can read into it whatever they wish, but I found it authentic and compelling. What continues to amaze is how many of the wounded men and women did not want to leave Iraq, preferring to rejoin their units as soon as possible.

Chaplains prayed with the wounded and for the dead. If the ACLU objects, someone should tell them to shut up.

We are told that most people don't have any relatives in today's all-volunteer military, or know anyone who does. That is too bad, because such people are missing out on the privilege of knowing a group of young men and women whose commitment to duty, honor and country is refreshing in a self-centered universe.

Memorial Day honors those who took up arms in the defense of freedom and the common values shared by free people. These men and women lost their lives so that we (and others) could maintain our freedom. Unless you know them, it is difficult to understand their reasons for leaving behind comfort and loved ones to give their lives so that others might live in freedom.

Eighteen months ago, I wrote about a remarkable young man who I have known since his birth. Specialist Daniel Calvin Dobson, of Grand Rapids, Mich., joined the National Guard with the intention of going to Iraq. He served and he came home. Next week, he leaves for a second tour. He tells me the Army has a policy that anyone who has already served in Iraq is not required to go back should his unit be recalled. Daniel volunteered to go back.

In e-mail to his friends, he asks three things: "First, do not lose hope in the face of negative reporting. We are doing good work in Iraq and God is with us. Second, pray for those of us who have chosen to serve our nation and the liberties espoused by our Constitution. Third, I ask that you never take advantage of the liberties guaranteed by the shedding of free blood, never take for granted the freedoms granted by our Constitution. For those liberties would be merely ink on paper were it not for the sacrifice of generations of Americans who heard the call of duty and responded heart, mind and soul with 'Yes, I will.'"

In a new book, "Home of the Brave: Honoring the Unsung Heroes in the War on Terror," the late Secretary of Defense Caspar Weinberger and presidential speechwriter and scholar Wynton C. Hall write of such men: "Every morning, in cities all across the world, 2.4 million Americans wake up, put on a uniform, kiss their loved ones goodbye, and head out the door to defend freedom. In exchange, they ask for nothing: not wealth, not power, not celebrity. : To them, protecting America is a privilege, an honor, a solemn duty that has been passed like a torch from their parents and grandparents before them.

"As First Sergeant Justin LeHew told us, 'It's all the crosses in Arlington Cemetery. It's all those GIs who died over there with my dad on Omaha Beach. You want your generation to do America justice like that one did.' And they did."

They did, indeed. And they still are doing America justice and doing America proud.

Find a veteran this Memorial Day weekend and say, "thank you for my freedom." Visit a military cemetery and thank God someone was willing to die so you and I might live in freedom. And support those, like my friend Daniel Dobson, who for the second time is about to make an installment payment toward the price free people must pay in order that we might continue to enjoy liberty.

Cal Thomas is a columnist for Tribune Media Services.


drewdun 11 years, 11 months ago

"Chaplains prayed with the wounded and for the dead. If the ACLU objects, someone should tell them to shut up."

Great straw man, Cal.

Godot 11 years, 11 months ago

drewdun, is that the only point you can find to criticize?

drewdun 11 years, 11 months ago

Last time I checked, I was an American. Oh, that's right, if I don't agree with you I'm not an American. Perhaps I'm untermensch and should be exterminated - that's right up your alley, rt. BTW, don't confuse loyalty to your Dear Leader to be patriotism or a prerequisite to be American. If that was the case, 70% of Americans would not be Americans, you super-patriot, you.

And no, Godot, that's not all I can find to criticize about Cal, it just seemed that his bringing the ACLU into this piece 'honoring' the soldiers' (if you consider using our armed forces as political pawns for the right-wing to be honoring them) was a bit straw-y (maybe herring-ish).

drewdun 11 years, 11 months ago

"You're no American, drewdun. Are you human? Just what are you?" - rt

Sorry, I can't let this go. I'll tell you what I am, rightthinker. I'm a person who thinks that asking men to die for a series of lies is a crime, and no amount of sappy heartstring pulling and flag waving faux solemnity by a man like Cal Thomas, who supported the invasion and every instance of deception and incompetence by this administration, will change my mind. In fact, it only makes me more convinced of the rightness of my cause.

I know it is hard for a person with your, umm, limitations to see that criticizing Thomas and the other chickenhawk hypocrites (which I also consider you to be, as you are not in Iraq fighting this war that is so important to you) does not make me 'un-American' and 'against the troops,' as you would so obviously like to believe. In my opinion it makes me FOR the troops, without question moreso than you, as I support the troops not DYING FOR LIES AND NOT SACRIFICING THEIR LIVES SO THE RIGHT-WING CAN SAVE FACE. Question my humanity and my American-ness all you want - this just shows the utter bankruptcy of your beliefs. You cannot engage on the facts - which are that YOUR president, a 'man' that you helped elect and still defend, had a war-fever that spread like wildfire through the right-wing echo chamber (composed mainly of chickenhawk hypocrites) and was eaten up by dolts like yourself; and now, as a result of this colossal, earth-shattering blunder, close to 2500 hundred US soldiers are dead, along with countless Iraqis, and for what? So we could get rid of a third-rate dictator, while making friends with other repressive regimes (see Kazakhstan), and introducing anarchy in Iraq, giving fodder to the real enemies of the United States (the terrorists - remember them? I'm surprised you forgot about them, what with your constant 9/11 drumbeat), and ignoring the country that actually harbored those that attacked us?

The blood is on your hands, rightthinker, not mine. In fact, in a sane world it would be your patriotism and humanity that would be questioned and scorned. Absolutely pathetic.

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