Voice from the Commonwealth
Commentary, World Views and Occasional Rants from a small 'l' libertarian in Massachussetts

"If ye love wealth greater than liberty, the tranquility of servitude better than the animating contest for freedom, go home and leave us in peace. We seek not your council nor your arms. Crouch down and lick the hand that feeds you, and may posterity forget that ye were our countrymen." - Samuel Adams

Monday, April 21, 2003

Reporters who were embedded are starting to talk about what they learned.

What's the face of the Iraq war? Is it a scene of physical destruction people see on their televisions and in their newspapers? Is it a glimpse of sullen -- more often relieved -- Iraqi prisoners or celebrating civilians? Or is it the wave of camouflaged U.S. troops routing an enemy, and in typical American fashion, then embracing the children of a foe vanquished?
It's all that and more.

For journalists embedded with U.S. forces, the dominant feature of Operation Iraqi Freedom is, and always will be, the faces of individual Marines, soldiers, airmen or sailors with whom they lived, sweated and feared during the long slog to Baghdad.

Leuthe, Davis, Shevlin, Washburn, Malley, Lockett, Jones, Moll, Lyon, Bishop, Avilos, Nolan, Lockett, Meldoza, Craft, George -- the list of names of the men who did themselves proud, the Marines proud and their nation proud is too long to recite. There were more than 180 in the company; more than 200 when you add in attachments, such as armored vehicle crews and additional Navy corpsmen.

They were a cross-section of America. There were whites, blacks, Hispanics, Asians, American Indians and every hue and mixture in between. Pvt. Dustin Pangelinann, 23, was from Saipan in the U.S. Commonwealth of the Marianas. Fifteen members of Bravo Company were not U.S. citizens and represented the newest wave of immigrants to our country. Some were from Mexico and one was from Haiti. There were also several from Russia and Ukraine.

Some came from poor backgrounds, others were solidly middle class. One Marine, who didn't need to work because of a family fortune, enlisted in his late 20s in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

And yes, some even had had youthful brushes with the law.

But they all shared two things. They were Marines and "Devil Dogs." Not hyphenated Marines, just Marines -- the "Few and the Proud," carrying on the tradition of courage their regimental forebears showed at Bellieu Wood and the Argonne, at Guadalcanal and Okinawa, at the Chosen Reservoir and Inchon, and at Hue.

"None of you had to be here," company commander Capt. Jason Smith told his men before crossing the border berm into Iraq from Kuwait. "You all chose to be here by becoming Marines, by doing something good for the world.

"Take a look around you. We are all different ... what other military force or country in the world can say that? The fact that we are all different and live with each other and focus together under adverse circumstances tells me and the world a lot."

This group of men, this collection of Marines, he said, comes from a nation that "is going to war to defend an idea" of freedom, rule of law and human dignity. "We're going to war to make the world a better place because we don't want to happen again what happened on Sept. 11."

I think so many of the reporters figured out that the men and women in our military are there for the right reasons and that they understand their mission and America's place in the world. They aren't brainwashed fools doing the bidding to expand a new empire. Hopefully they will remember what they learned when they go on reporting in the future.

< email | 4/21/2003 03:08:00 PM | link

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