To save your world you asked this man to die;
Would this man, could he see you now, ask why?
W.H. Auden, epitaph for the tomb of an unknown soldier.
To date we have asked 2,108 willing US warriors to die for us in Iraq. We asked them to die when we agreed to invade Iraq and they did, they died. They died because we asked them to. They died for us. Of the men and women we asked to die and who did die 30% were only 21 or younger, just children really, mere infants compared to the most of us who asked them to give up their lives.
Evidence supporting the allegations that prewar intelligence was â€˜ginned upâ€™ or â€˜sexed upâ€™ to lead America into war mounts daily. Left wing pundits and anti-war activists have been inundated with ammunition and spent rounds litter the Sunday morning talk shows as salvo after salvo is fired at Bush, Cheney and the White House Iraq Group.
Despite all this, you and I and the butcher and the candlestick maker are still asking the surviving 140,000+ US troops to die to save our world. While more and more of us begin to ask our leaders why, fewer and fewer of us are capable of looking into the eyes and soul of a dead warriorâ€™s ghost and giving a justifiable reason.
In 1965 Operation Rolling Thunder a series of US bombing raids intended to â€˜break the willâ€™ of the North Vietnamese began. Ten years and 50,000 dead US troops later the US clambered into rooftop helicopters leaving communism and its influence to spread around the world as the dreaded â€˜dominoâ€™ fell with Saigon. Thirty years have passed and where are we?
In March, 2003, Operation Iraqi Freedom launched a â€˜shock and aweâ€™ offensive on Baghdad in the US led war on terror. Many will argue with me here but terror, terrorism is not an enemy. Terror is a tactic and can be employed by anyone, anytime, anywhere. Terror is a tactic just as shock and awe, designed to directly affect an enemyâ€™s will and perception, is a tactic.
Terror is a tactic just as shake and bake, shaking out an enemy using white phosphorus and baking them with conventional mortars, is a tactic. Terror is a tactic just like a blitzkrieg, or a double pincer formation or night time reconnaissance or an ambush, but terror is NOT an enemy and cannot, therefore, be defeated. Terror might, however, be defended against if we are properly prepared at home.
These are blasphemous words to some of you I am sure and permanently and irretrievably sets us upon opposite sides of the river. However, last August when I visited Cindy Sheehan in Crawford, Texas during the waning days of her vigil I witnessed and participated in one bit of common ground that we all share.
Prairie Chapel Road, all that separated the â€˜stay the courseâ€™ crowd from the â€˜bring them home nowâ€™ crowd, melted from view with the setting sun. Both sides set aside their differences and joined together in a candlelight vigil to honor our fallen warriors. What I learned that night as the bugler played taps and chests heaved and tears flowed is that we all love these kids. These kids we asked to die. We love them so much, we love them beyond description. We grieve for them, we mourn for them and we never, ever want them to be forgotten.
If we can agree on this very important point, and we do, then regardless of our position on the Iraq war, we can agree that Congress owes it to our children in uniform to open the House for debate. To ask for and hear expert witness testimony and analysis from experienced military and diplomatic leaders on how best to proceed for the safety of our troops and the Iraqi people.
Before you ask one more young warrior to die, to give up life for you and your world demand that Congress act. Alert them en masse that no vote in â€™06 will be forthcoming to any representative or senator who does not actively work toward a real plan to end the conflict in Iraq.
If you love the troops and I know that you do, make sure you can look that warriorâ€™s ghost in the eye and not be ashamed of your answer to why.