by John Hawkins | February 1, 2005 12:05 am
Some of you may have noticed I didn’t post my own thoughts on (Sunday’s) elections. My reason is simple: it wasn’t my day. I watched through tearing eyes. Yes, this old trooper shed a few tears of joy at what had happened. Like the amazing fall of the Berlin wall, the peaceful “revolutions” that freed Eastern Europe, this was another great victory in my lifetime, and one I felt a little bit involved in. This wasn’t George Bush’s victory, this wasn’t America’s victory, this certainly wasn’t my victory, this was a victory for the people of Iraq and those who love freedom everywhere. I was an observer, a very close observer, but an observer nonetheless.
I liked what I saw.
Now note the header above. The work has just begun. I see bent and broken, scarred and ruined things here every day. Many were damaged years ago. 1991? 2003? In between? After? It’s often hard to tell. Many will be fixed in time, others are beyond repair. Now substitute the word “people” for “things” in the preceding and read it again. Meet a group of Iraqi people and one will tell you how grateful he is that we have given him freedom. He will tell you he lived in fear for his life every day under Saddam. His joy is real, and fundamental, and obvious. Then the next will tell you he lost his entire family in the invasion. He’s glad Saddam’s gone, but he’s paid a price that few would be willing to pay were they given the option.
What would you say to him? “Sorry about that. But cheer up, old boy! Other than that you must admit this freedom thing is pretty great, eh?” No – there’s nothing that can be said. He may or may not hate the United States, he may blame Saddam for what happened, but here is a man with the rest of his life before him, and he’ll live each day without his family.
The greater good, of course, is served. Many Americans died in this endeavor too; such things temper the celebration. I think Iraqi blogger Alaa offers the right perspective:
My condolences to the Great American people for the tragic recent losses of soldiers. The blood of Iraqis and Americans is being shed on the soil of Mesopotamia; a baptism with blood. A baptism of a lasting friendship and alliance, for many years to come, through thick and thin, we shall never forget the brave soldiers fallen while defending our freedom and future.
I’d add our Coalition allies to that sentiment too.
So amidst the triumph, I saw yesterday as a Memorial Day, of a sort, for those many who fell to make it possible. Some might try and use those deaths for their own ends, or to justify their belief that we should never have walked this path. Such people don’t believe in heroes. They can’t even comprehend this simple fact; no one is more opposed to war than the soldier. He knows the cost and has seen the carnage. But as I wrote at the top of the sidebar long ago: The Mudville Gazette is the on-line voice of an American warrior, who prefers to see peaceful change render force of arms unnecessary. Until that day he stands fast with those who struggle for freedom, strike for reason, and pray for a better tomorrow.
Today we re-build broken things. Grab a hammer or get out of the way.
Content used with permission of Greyhawk from the Mudville Gazette. You can read more of his work by clicking here.
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