This post has been building for a long time. I’ve been trying to keep my mouth shut and act like a grown up, mature professional.
But who the hell am I kidding?
Friday was the rededication of the First Cavalry Division’s Memorial to those who have made the ultimate sacrifice. This was be the third time the Cav has rededicated the memorial since the war began, etching new names of our fallen brothers and sisters into the black granite. The memorial stands in front of the First Cav headquarters for all to see, a silent tribute to a soldier who gave their life. Friday, we added 69 more names to the immortal wall.
Standing in that crowd and paying respect to my fallen brothers and sisters means something to me, as it does to everyone who has ever lost someone next to them who wore the uniform. The American Flag became more than cloth to me the first time I stood on that airfield in Mosul and saluted a flag draped coffin. And my uniform means something to me because my brothers and sisters in arms have bled and died in these colors.
When someone, man or woman, raises their right hand and volunteers to become a soldier, they are signing on to become someone different. We are taught to uphold the Army Values. Those Army values may be just words on a poster to many but to some of us, they are more than words.
So when people who have never worn the uniform dare to call all the men and women who wear it dishonorable, disloyal, liars or criminals, it deeply offends me to the very seat of my soul.
I just ordered Dark Hearts: One Platoon’s Journey into Madness. The book is about the Mahmoudiya murder committed by Stephen Green and his platoon. These men raped and murdered a 14 year old Iraqi girl and then murdered her entire family to conceal the crime. This was not warfare. This was murder. This was dishonor.
Being willing to kill in combat is not the same as murder.
In Fareheitt 9/11, Michael Moore dared to portray soldiers as amoral killers because they listened to Drowning Pool’s Bodies as they rolled outside the gate. What Mr. Moore fails to realize is the loyalty and bonds that will enable you to do anything to bring the men and women next to you home alive. If Bodies got our boys in that tank in the right frame of mind to go out and come home alive, then so be it. They are soldiers and it is not a kind, gentle thing that soldiers are asked to do for our nation. Our nation asks us to kill and while we will do our best to do so with restraint, if you have never worn a uniform, then you have no right to pretend to know what my brothers and sisters in arms go through each time they roll outside the wire.
I’m supposed to say I’ll defend to my death your right to free speech. I’m supposed to say that diverse opinions are what makes America great. But when you take an entire Army of soldiers, noncommissioned officers and officers and call them dishonorable, there is no further dialogue. We have reached mutually exclusive terrain that can not be shared. There is nothing I can say that will convince you that even if your point has ANY semblance of validity, you should not say that ALL soldiers and leaders are dishonorable.
Is there dishonor within the ranks? Yes. I will not sit here and lie to you and pretend that we do not have criminals, thieves and cowards wearing our uniform. But you cannot stand there and call us all by these names because a few actually deserve it.
Honor means something to me. Doing the right thing means something to me and it means something to a majority of the men and women I stood next to last week as we honored our fallen brothers and sisters.
Question the policy. Question actions of individuals. Demand that individuals be held responsible for their actions.
But don’t you dare call me or the men and women I serve with dishonorable.
You don’t know the meaning of the word.