Tuesday, January 31, 2012


I am probably the last person to be qualified to write this entry.  President Nixon ended the draft a year before I would have been eligible.  I have never been in the military much less in a combat situation.  Most of what I know about war has come from reading books, watching documentaries, receiving news reports and first hand accounts from men who have found themselves in this situation.

That opening paragraph has been sitting on this blog for almost two weeks.  I stare at it repeatedly trying to think how to follow up.  The intent that was supposed to arise from that paragraph was how war, being in combat situations changes people.  Every time I try to write I realize I don't know a thing about it.

 I think of the photos that came from the Abu Ghraib prison.  I think about the recent photos of Americans Urinating on the corpses of dead enemy soldiers.  Americans do not do this kind of activity in war.  That is what we have been taught through the years anyway.  Then again there is a great propaganda machine that the military of every country has to show how their military are the good guys and the atrocities that the enemy does to justify the war we are currently in.

It was easy to keep the propaganda machine under control before the Vietnam war.  Ever since that horrible time of history, information began to come to us at an increasingly fast pace.  We saw film footage of our soldiers doing things we never thought they were capable of doing.  As time has gone by the information has become almost instantaneous as they happen and the images and the facts of what was going on landed in our living rooms, on our computers and in our laps so fast it almost overwhelms us.

I have no idea what it is like in combat.  I have no idea what our military sees and what they are forced to deal with on a daily basis.  I am not sure I want to know.  I think back to those photos from abu ghraib.  These enemy personal were responsible for torture, hard torture, on their own people.  They were responsible for executions on a daily basis.  How would they treat our soldiers if they were prisoners instead of the other way around.  I don't know, but I do know I have seen these people cut off the heads of innocents.  Torture being applied that would break any man in two.  I can see a side of it that after witnessing situations like that, that when they are captured it could be a natural response to give them a little of their own medicine. 

I am not saying it is right, but it is certainly understandable.  Yes there are times when it is totally unacceptable what some of our troops do.  The Mei Lei massacre comes to mind.  That was such a horrendous action that a court martial was definitely in order.  But some of the things that have come out of Iraq and Afghanistan was not torture.  They took some embarrassing photographs of the prisoners. 

I stand by our troops.  I am proud of the job they they do in a very difficult situation.  I think they are the, without qualification, the most decent military in the world.  I try to understand why their thinking and their actions may stray a little from perfect as they find themselves in situations that they are in.

My cousins father was involved in one of the forces in World War Two that went into a German concentration camp hot and liberated it while the German military was still there running it.  The pictures were awful and horrific.  They piled the German officers in a pile in a corner like a pile of trash, not treating the bodies with any respect what so ever.  I don't blame them.  After seeing what the camp was. I feel it would be natural to treat the Germans at that point in time with less dignity than a normal human would deserve.

I talked to my father who went in and liberated some of the camps as an eighteen year old.  Being faced with the horrors of those camps at such a young age would definitely effect your feelings towards those who ran the camps.  He doesn't like to talk about it.

I have seldom came across a Vietnam War vet who wanted to talk about their experiences over there.  My Brother in law would not talk about it.  After he died, I came across several pictures of his time in Vietnam.  In those pictures I saw a group of men surviving in any way possible and trying to keep life as normal as possible while finding themselves in an almost desperate situation.  The Vietnam Vets returned home from duty and were treated like garbage by their own people.  God help us that this never happens again.

I try to treat any member of the military with respect that they are due.  We have been attacked on our own soil more than once and these are the men and women who are going to fight to keep us safe and free no matter what ti takes.

This country needs to try to dig down a little deep and try to understand what the situations these soldiers are faced with every day and be a little more forgiving when they may step over the line slightly.  They are in a difficult situation and they do it voluntarily.

Thanks to all of our military.  I wish I could understand all you go through but on the other hand, part of me is glad that I don't have to understand it.  I just have to be understanding.

I am proud to be an American and I am extremely proud of the American Military.


  1. Bill,
    Thank you so much for this piece. As I am a proud parent of a Marine officer who at this time is holding fort in the Helman Province of Afganistan. These are the times when as a parent you reflect on the child you raised and marvel at the adult they become. I know Kyle joined the Marine Corp for the right reasons and utilized his college degree to help lead other fighting Marines, and while he is for the most part ensconced in Camp Leathernck while in Afganistan you worry that if a fanatic can enter Ft. Hood and draw a service revolver our military is never safe. I am as proud of my son as I was to say our fathers protected our way of life and this wonderful nation.

    Thank you my friend,