The Captain has up on his blog a letter written from a Marine to his family prior to leaving for his 3rd tour of duty in Iraq:
Today I leave for the war
Well it’s time to go and do what I have been called to do. Today I head for to the war for the third time and I have some things to say. To me this is a blessing, a calling from God to do what I can to help our brave men and women in uniform. Also this post is for my family as some of them still don’t understand why I am on my third trip to Iraq. First of all:
K, you have been the best sister a brother could ever have, you and I had some good fights when we were kids, but you were always there if I truly needed you. We don’t see eye to eye on anything political, and you are one of those people calling for our troops to come home now. I love you, but you are wrong in this count, you have three boys and if we don’t do this right, it will have to be done again and it could be your boys next time. When I’m in Iraq, I think about my three nephews and how I don’t want to see them in DCU’s in the next decade, I want to fight our enemies in their country until they either surrender or become so ineffective they aren’t a threat to any of us. I don’t want my nephews fighing a fight that I couldn’t finish, I want them to go to college or play professional soccer, or be beach bums. However,if they choose to become soldiers I would be proud to be in the same chain that links all military personnel past present and future, the chain that holds America together. That being said I would prefer they not have to fight the war I have seen, I would prefer they not lose any friends like I have and I wish that they would never lose their innocence by having to kill another human being. War takes so much out of a person, it changes us in ways that are almost never positive and I would not want your boys to have to go through what I have. I hope one day you understand, that I don’t do this for the money, that Bush is not Hitler, and that the people of Iraq deserve as much a chance at a better life as we were given. You and G and the boys will be on my mind the entire time I am in Kirkuk.
Mom, I was the baby of the family and I know you still view me as that little boy that wouldn’t eat his green beans and only wanted peanut butter. I am still that little boy inside, but I am so much more now, I am a husband and a veteran, and now a successful man with my own family. I chose to go back to Iraq this time, because I believe in a better world. At 30 I am more of an idealist now than I was at 20, I believe one person can make a difference. I know you will worry about me the entire time I am gone, but you won’t tell me how scared you are. I just wanted to say it’s ok, I am on the path that brings me the greatest happiness. No matter what happens to me, I am doing what I believe is my destiny, I come from a family of warriors, your family and Dad’s were all warriors, it’s what they knew. I am a product of their collective service to nation, this isn’t about adventure or money or some deathwish, it’s about doing the right thing. The men and women and especially the children of Iraq are worth fighting for, when I see them I know that any sacrifice I can make is worth it. What kind of man would I be if I refused to help someone in need? How could I live my life knowing that someone was being tortured and I stood by and sipped my latte and refused to get off my ass? I don’t know if you will ever understand what drives me Mom, just being able to help one Iraqi is worth my life. People on this planet are so hell bent on persecuting others, they are so concerned with appearing strong that they prey on the weak and the helpless. Mom, the people of Iraq were helpless and being crushed by a petty clone of Adolf Hitler, now they have hope where before they had none. Iraq is a mess, but it is a mess because freedom is messy, we had to fight a Civil War that nearly killed 500,000 of us just to make all men and women free. Iraq is already having to fight a soul searing conflict with itself to find itself. How could we abandon these people to this chaos? I will continue to support this cause until we win, we lose, or I am knocked out of commission. I cannot call myself a man and abandon the men, women and children of Iraq to brutal butchers, I’ve made my choice. You’ll be in my heart everyday.
Dad, you are my hero, I don’t know if I’ve ever told you that, but you are. You served in Vietnam and came back and made a life for yourself and your family. You did everything you could to provide for K and I, you worked extra hours to make sure we never went without. You never took sick time even though you were out in the elements everyday, you are the definition of what a man is, I hope one day I am half the man that you are. I think you understand what drives me and why I have to keep doing this job. When you were here in Hawaii to visit me and you told me you were proud of me was a moment I’ll never forget. I can’t let the people of Iraq suffer without doing something, I know I am only one person, but you were only one person and you did so many things in your life. I want to be like you, but I want to do so much more, I know I’m not going to “save the world”, but everyday I can do a good deed, whether in Iraq or in Hawaii is a day that I feel like I have done my job as a man and an American. I know you understand!
Jan, my wife, my love, my life, this has got to be the hardest on you. This is the third time I have asked you to take a leap of faith and believe that no harm will come to me in Iraq. Three times I have left you and our puppies behind to pursue some quixotic belief that I can make the world a slightly better place. Three times I have left you behind to pay the bills, and manage the house and so many other things that no one should be forced to do by themselves. I have not been with you for 3 of our seven anniversary’s because of my commitment to this. All I can say to you is thank you! I will always love you for your patience and your support of me and my ideals. I know that I make your life hard with these deployments, and for that I am sorry, I wish that it were easier to be away from you,but it’s not. In fact, each deployment it gets harder and harder for me to say goodbye, I’ve lost friends now and had a few close calls myself, but I can’t quit doing this. You know why, you more than anyone else understand why. You and I both believe it is our destiny to do whatever we can to make the world better. We are two tiny fish in the enormous universal ocean, but we both know one person can make a difference. When I am in Iraq I know you are in my heart at every moment and that our faith and love protects me. I firmly believe God has a plan for both of us, we are his instruments to do what we can to make the world better. So don’t worry about me this time, I am doing what I was meant to do, and I have never been happier. So go and find my molly-molly and give her a scratch behind the ears.
For anyone that reads this; yes I am a 30 year old idealist, at 20 I was a cynic, but now I have a mission in life and a purpose. I found God, but I am far from a religious fanatic, I found a God that inspired me to do good deeds just for the sake of doing good. I can feel his prescence in everything around me, the sunset, the waves crashing on a Hawaiian beach and even in the evening breeze that is laced with plumeria. I would call myself a soldier of God, but not in any way that says he favors me or my cause. I am a soldier of our lord because I choose to serve the side of good, good is opening a door for a stranger, or helping your neighbor empty his trashcan, or going to Iraq because you want to help a people find their voice and feel what we feel when we think of our freedoms. The most fundamental question I ask myself everday is: If I have the chance to do good, even if there is a terrible price to pay, why wouldn’t I? I wish more Americans would ask themselves this question, if you can do good, what on earth would stop you from following through?
Finally I just wanted to state one more time, Iraq is the whole bag of marbles, if our ideas win there, then militant islam will wither on the vine and eventually die. If we lose in Iraq, the world will become a much darker place where the evils of the past such as slavery and holy wars will become the norm. I ask the people of America this question; We are the last hope for this planet to realize its potential, the europeans are too weak to do it, what kind of world do we want for our children to live in? I made my choice, and now I leave to do what I believe is my duty. God bless my family, God bless our brave men and women in uniform, God bless all Americans and God bless America.
P.S. Love you my hummingbird
I thought this would be a fitting post for this 4th of July weekend. The above letter was written by a true patriot and I am humbled by him.