Any paramedic, fireman or emergency room doctor can attest that sometimes the difference between life and death can be measured in seconds. A moment’s hesitation, a heartbeat of delay, a mere breath of indecision can cost someone their life. Speed is of the essence a quick response is always crucial.

Every day in Iraq someone’s life hangs on even clings to seconds. While in Ramadi, my Marine son, John, saw many examples of this and seconds meant everything to a quick reaction force (QRF). Once while on foot patrol a young Marine was mortally wounded by a bullet along the edge of the road and a huge firefight ensued with Marines returning fire and taking incoming mortar and gunfire. Two men, a Marine and a medic, without hesitation or regard for their own lives, ran many yards through open fire to try and save the young private.

IED attackAnother time, John saw in his rear view mirrors a ‘ten pack’, (a humvee designed to carry ten men) following him, hit by a remotely detonated IED. The ten pack, empty at the time except for the driver and a passenger flipped over twice, landing upside down trapping the men inside its burning wreckage. The Marines despite incoming fire did not hesitate and took defensive positions and pulled the two men, now helpless targets for snipers from the hummer seconds before it blew.

Though moved to action by something deeper than heroism, but by camaraderie and duty to their fellow warriors, a bond unique to combat, these men all knew seconds counted. They knew and they did not, would not hesitate.

Civilians and rescue personnel rallied together at the scenes of the World Trade Centers and the Pentagon digging desperately through the rubble side by side, racing against time, because they knew lives depended upon it, that seconds mattered. Each day in this country, ordinary citizens find themselves in circumstances that require their quick reaction. Most are equal to the task and rush to action as they would want someone else to do for them. If you knew you had the ability to save a life wouldn’t you do it? Wouldn’t you rush to do it?

IED attackImagine then, that in your hand, you hold the life of a young soldier or Marine. Sheltered in the palm of your hand lies the blood and sinew, dreams and hopes, heart and soul and yes, even the sanity of a young warrior who hopes and believes he is fighting for you. Imagine that your quick action means the difference between life and death for that warrior cradled in your hand.

We expect the quick reaction of paramedics and firemen rushing to the scene of an accident or fire because seconds count. Just since December 6, 2006 when the Iraq Study Group released its recommendations and as President Bush waits to ‘decide’ upon a new strategy, over 100 GIs have lost their lives.

As the 109th Congress argued CAFTA, obliterated the 2007 defense appropriations bill and even debated Terry Schiavo, hundreds of GIs died. In the seconds, minutes and days that the new Congress debates whether or not to withhold funding for the Iraq occupation more of our troops will die. More of our troops will die unless American citizens organize into a QRF and tell our representatives to withhold funding and bring home our troops.

Imagine that warrior clinging to life in your hand awaiting your quick and immediate action. Write your Congressmen and Senators and demand they withhold funding for the Iraq occupation and to bring home the troops now. Stand on a corner with a sign, march on Washington January 27 and tell every citizen to do the same. Fight for the troops. Fight for them as they hope and pray and believe they are fighting for you. We all have a chance to save a life and seconds count.