The son of Sammy; the fight for respect
Sammy is one of my best friends. He served with me in Iraq and in this difficult environment, we shared laughs, close calls and toilet paper. Sammy has this infectious laugh that always brightened the dullest moments. In many ways, he was my refuge.
In Iraq, he turned 40, missed his children’s birthdays and injured his ankle on a PT run. Before we left, his son joined the Wisconsin Guard. And now his son is deployed to the Middle East. Sammy Jr. will provide security for convoys, one of the more dangerous missions. Sammy is no longer on the battlefield, but he will now watch the news more closely and cringe at every “U.S. soldier killed” headline.
Since I’ve been home, I’ve followed the news and read about friends being killed. It’s much more difficult to observe the progress from home than it is to witness the carnage. I don’t know why; it just is. And now that Sammy Jr. is crossing the border, my heart hopes he returns unscathed. But I know he will return a man… a man that makes his father proud. I also find myself becoming more and more concerned.
As a soldier, it’s not our job to question the politics behind the conflict. It’s our job to execute. But since I’ve been home, I’ve grown tired of the “Iraq debate” to the point that part of me wishes the war would end and my friends could return home. While I know this is not realistic, I still wonder how much of an impact we are really making on the U.S.-proclaimed “War on Terror.” As our country grows tired of the war, my heart simply aches. With every death, I find myself questioning why.
The reason we went to Iraq was for Weapons of Mass Destruction. Then, it was freeing the Iraqi people. Then, it was fighting the terrorists in Iraq rather than America. I struggle with stomaching the politics behind the war, but I am enamored by the results of our military.
We have built schools, trained security forces and destroyed the hopes of thousands of evil doers, while our fatalities continue to increase. I just wonder when the end will be. Every day, I pray that the killing of Americans will stop, and I hope our society recognizes the trials the soldiers and family go through.
Politics aside, I am most frustrated with the anti-war protesters. I do not believe many of them recognize the sacrifice our soldiers and families make. They march throughout our cities, criticizing our President, chanting “Support our troops; bring them home.” Then, they question the morality of our soldiers after incidents like Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo. However, I do respect Cindy Sheehan and her views. After all, the war has taken away her precious son. And I guess this is where my frustrations come from… I have lost so many friends. But at the same time, 20 years from now, when I meet with the children of my fallen friends, I do not want to tell them that their father died for oil or for politics. Rather, I will tell them their father fought for their freedom, for all Americans.
I am young and at times naïve to the mood of this country. However, I wonder how close this conflict is coming to Vietnam. It seems like protests are becoming more malicious while servicemen continue to die.
And then, I see another 18-year-old go off to war. A son of a very close friend. While proud of his commitment for the United States, I pray for Sammy Jr.’s safety… and that he may return to a country that supports him. A country that ignores the politics behind Iraq and recognizes the sacrifices of the American soldier.