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The Price of Freedom

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When I was first stationed in Germany in early 1994, I met a guy who I’ll call Matt. He was an Air Force SP (security police), which in many ways is the Air Force’s idea of infantry. Matt had just returned from Somalia. He was beautiful, in my opinion, and I was immediately smitten.

The guys in my unit told me that I should steer clear of him because he was “not right anymore” since his time “in the Mog.” I was just turning 20, and laughed it off. We were Air Force. It’s not like we saw ground combat. I didn’t know about the incident with the Black Hawks. I had been in Basic and AIT during that time. We dated for a few months and though I loved him dearly, I could never get past the wall.

I watched Black Hawk Down for the first time today, and was really able to take in the mess that was Somalia in a way that was more than just academic knowledge. Ever since doing the research for the Vietnam story, I can’t watch war movies anymore. The feeling of “Hell yes! Americans Kick ASS! OORAH!” has been eclipsed by anger, and a sad sense of pride. It’s not the same anymore. I don’t chuckle knowingly to see wounded soldiers get up and keep fighting; admiring their courage. I cry knowingly instead, lifting my chin and thinking, “Of course.”

I cried from the moment Todd Blackburn fell out of the chopper until the end credits rolled, and for a long time after. I cried for the two Delta Force soldiers who were awarded the Medal of Honor. I cried for Dom Pilla, shot out of the top of a Humvee; for Cpl Jamie Smith, who bled to death in a dirty African city while his fellow soldiers tried in vain to hold his femoral artery together. I cried for people like Matt, who I found recently but who I don’t think ever really found himself again.

The love I have for my country is so deep and profound that it drives everything that I am. My belief in freedom and my willingness to do whatever it takes to defend my flag is second only to my belief in God. Yet there are times when I ask myself what the point is.

All these blogs, all these soldiers and veterans and people who understand what the price of freedom is – and yet the country is still clueless. The colleges and their anti-recruiters, the feminists and their sanctioning of killing our children, the constant head-in-the-sand syndrome about Islam and its followers. We’re being invaded from the South, by people whose only goal is to have a “better life” by taking what is not theirs. We’re being infiltrated by terrorists whose only wish is to see us all dead.

I spent some time in the mall the other day, and as I sat there eating with my husband and child, I couldn’t help but look around me. Teenage girls walking around dressed like they’re prostitutes, convinced that the world revolves around their tiny little group of boys and makeup and the latest fashions. Sullen-looking boys in gang colors, thinking the world owes them something; thinking that their involvement in guns or drugs or violence makes them someone. Well-dressed couples, chattering away on their respective cell phones, completely oblivious to their mate right next to them; like they have all the time in the world.

These people have no idea. They go about their lives without a thought in the world that in Iraq, right now, there is a soldier bleeding for them. Right as I type this, there is an officer trying to learn to walk again after having his legs blown off. There is a mother and father accepting the fact that their only son was killed by a terrorist before he reached his 21st birthday. There is a woman trying to make it on her own with two small children because her husband willingly and knowingly gave the ultimate gift to his fellow Americans – without a second thought. There is a little boy going to sleep tonight who will ask his mother to tell him about his daddy. There is a man who will live the rest of his life knowing that his best friend died a horrible, violent death – so he could live.

I am angered beyond belief at the state of our country. I am discouraged, and I wonder if anything I say in this sea of words makes a difference. I wonder if there’s even a point. It seems as though for every person like me, who understands the cost, there are 1,000 more too selfish to even realize that their blood is required to maintain the views they hold.

Yet, we press on. Why? Because of those who have come before. Because of Rafael Peralta. Because of Randy Shughart and Gary Gordon; Richard Winters and Brad Kasal. Because of four men who died on a hill in 1968.

There are hundreds of thousands of people in this country, right now, who did something amazing. They saw there’s more to life than cell phones and malls and their next outfit. There’s more to being an American than sneaking across a border long enough to have a baby. The red in our flag stands for blood; the actual, real blood of men and women who throughout history have chosen to give everything, including their last breath, for the sake of the call.

Someone has to ensure their gift was not in vain.

TAS: Edited

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About Kit Jarrell

  • SFC Ski

    Hoo-ah!

  • http://selfaudit.blogspot.com Aaman

    Fine post, except for one bone I wish to pick with you:

    At the cost of rehashing old history and arguments, explain please what/why the American army was doing going to Vietnam, and Iraq.

    Mogadishu/Somalia one understands

    Also, why is the Army not in Sudan/Rwanda/North Korea/etc.

    Moving thoughts – I will link to you soon.

  • http://euphoricreality.net Kit Jarrell

    I am not going to turn this post into a discussion on US policy.

    Regardless of what you personally believe about whether they should have been there or not, the fact remains that they died for their country; and by extension, Americans. That is all.

    I believe in what they’re doing in Iraq, and I support them 110%.

  • http://www.elitistpig.com Dave Nalle

    Aaman, I hate to add to your completely irrelevant distraction from this excellent post, by why was Somalia any more our business than Iraq and why would Sudan be any more our business either.

    We can’t fight every war for every nation in every part of the world and against every oppressor or force of chaos. Someone has to make those choices. One president chose to go into Somalia with very poor results. Another chose to go into Iraq with mixed results. The one who went into Somalia chose to ignore the equally bad situation in Rwanda. The one who went into Iraq chose to overlook the equally bad, but different situation in Somalia. So far we haven’t done remarkably well taking on one war at a time and you want us to take them all on at once? That hardly seems realistic and certainly not the best way to use our soldiers who are a precious resource.

    Dave

  • http://selfaudit.blogspot.com Aaman

    I’m sorry, but there is a qualitative difference between dying for a policy, and dying for a country.

    I know that Indian soldiers, for example, died to support wrong policies of the Indian government, and so on for soldiers through history, and though their deaths were ‘for the country’ in one sense, I would rather they had not been in harm’s way for a policy that was ‘wrong’.

    I hope you get my point. Your support is commendable – I too, support defenestration of tyrants and dictators.

  • http://euphoricreality.net Kit Jarrell

    You could always try running for President or Congress, aaman. That way when those horrible policymakers get a little crazy, you can step in and stop the carnage before it starts. ;)

  • http://www.elitistpig.com Dave Nalle

    If you oppose dying for a policy then you should oppose ALL overseas deployments of our troops which are not immediately related to our national security, which totally rules out Bosnia, Sudan, Rwanda, Somalia and most other conflicts, but leaves us with Afghanistan and at least arguably Iraq.

    The problems with defenestrating the tyrants and dictators are getting to them to do the job and cleaning up the mess afterwards.

    Dave

  • http://selfaudit.blogspot.com Aaman

    valid point, Kit – you’ve just inspired a post that’s been in my mind for a while. – more later

    /back to excellent post from Kit discussion.

  • http://euphoricreality.net Kit Jarrell

    Even “national security” is a policy. Every decision in our country is a “policy” somehow.

    I agree with Dave, but let’s take it a step further. If we don’t want to “die for a policy”, then maybe we shouldn’t even have a military, since I’m pretty sure it’s a long-standing “policy” that the country should be kept safe from attack, infiltration and invasion.

    My post about you running for Congress was sarcasm. To be quite frank, I really wish lefties would stop running for office. ;) No offense intended – that’s just my right-mindedness rearing its head. =)

    Thanks a lot for the comments.

  • http://www.elitistpig.com Dave Nalle

    National defense isn’t a policy, it’s a mandate. It’s one of the few legitimate roles of government.

    Dave

  • http://euphoricreality.net Kit Jarrell

    I was dumbing it down a lot, but yeah. I know what you’re saying. You’re right.

  • MCH

    “National defense isn’t a policy, it’s a mandate. It’s one of the few legitimate roles of government.”
    – Dave Nalle

    Nalle, please spare the lectures on national defense…OK Chickenhawk?

  • http://www.elitistpig.com Dave Nalle

    MCH, when you prove yourself to be of any value as a human being, let me know. Dumbass.

    Dave

  • http://www.yeoldecodger.com Howard E. Morseburg

    BY THE GRACE OF GOD AND…
    Presidents who are also Commander-in-Chief must stand firm once the commitment to move forward has been made. To do less is to waste the sacrifices that some have already made, but secondly, it gives the enemy an impression that we are weak and will soon back off if they keep fighting…even with a minimal force.

    Part of our problem in Iraq today obviously goes back to Vietnam and how the enemy sees us. Another part is those who parade and give the enemy encouragement when they see we are divided, and those who visit the schools to give anti-enlistment talks. These rash Liberals up the cost both financially and in the loss of lives.
    The Jane Fondas of the 60s handed victory to the communists, because the South Vietnamese had as much right to victory in their own country as Liberals thought Ho Chi Minh had in the north. 60,000 of them died in prison camps, but not once has a single Liberal acknowledged both their right to live free and to control part of their country, nor criticized the communists for those murders. It is the same, by the way, with the fact that they worship the great cockroach, fidelito, but ignore more than 15,000 executions (see Black Book of Communism).
    Do you know what Liberals would do to this country? They would give up all their rights (and our rights) for two things: healthcare and free education. They would submit, as one can glean from their kiss-his-fanny visits to Havana, to a tyrant like fidelito, the great cockroach, for equal poverty, right? Wrong? They’d be first in line for everything, substituing themselves for the upper class by reason of their Godless beliefs, not their work ethics.
    Now, for those who question what was accomplished in Afghanistan, first the disruption of terrorist training camps, but more important, the greatest gift we could ever give, freedom to 3 million refugees living and suffering extreme privations in the mountainous border regions of Pakistan, freedom to return home and make their own lives again. Think of it, 3 million refugees returned home to Kabul and other cities to take up their lives again, the greatest repatriation in history.
    Most Iraqis trusted us to do the same for them as we did for Kuwait and they did not flee the war. Unfortunately, do to a shortage of boots on the ground, which was inevitable when we did away with the Draft and preparedness as well as the deliberate and daft policy of downsizing of our Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines in the early 90s, a tragedy. There is more to do than our limited forces can do well, as hard as they fight to do so, but they’ll never give up answering the call. It is the defeatists, such as Dean, who make a mockery of our sacrifices.
    Yes, Kit Jarrell, there are millions of us who burn with patriotism as you do, and my generation is proud of every Blog like those you write, like that of Jenny Martinez, and Val Prieto and others. We burned with it too, and that fire has never gone out. At our meeting last week, guys and gals in their 70s,80s and 90s the flame was unquenched. They questioned what is going on in this generation, but when I read words such as yours, I shed the same tears as you do…but know someone is keeping the spirit of PATRIOTISM alive and well. In you and others, we have the core and from that we can always rebuild. And, we will.

  • http://www.ericlmarsh Eric L. Marsh

    Kit, my sincere thanks to you for expressing your thoughts, thoughts that are shared by myself and many– many others. Yes it’s true the left leaners get more press coverage than we, but it’s only because of the media’s need to fill air time, and pages in hard print. ‘Dog bites man’, gets little play, so they have to bring in Ad revenue by putting out, ‘Man bites dog.’ I have been retired from the Army for ten years, and with good fortune on my side I fully expect to be once again in my beloved uniform before years end. I have dealt with whining– moaning ever bitching civilians more than I care to anymore. Your take on seeing them in Mall’s all across the country is oh soooooo true. It irks me to no end. In one of my written short stories I ask the following question about retired civilians; … Do they have a set of work clothes hung neatly and ready once again for wear, complete with shined boots or shoes as so many former service members have. I doubt it of course. Mine hangs at the ready, desert and forest cammies, dress blues and greens. Be it to bear arms once again or to be laid out in the pine box.
    Keep the spirit Kit, keep the Blog and spread the word and above all else, know you are NOT alone. This morning I leave from NH to drive to upstate NY to once again wrap my arms around a lady I consider my daughter and one of the best patriots in todays military. She returned this month from her tour in Baghdad,Iraq, As a reservist and not even an American citizen when I met her in the first Gulf war. She has exemplified all that a true American citizen should be. This proud lady has served us as a reservist in the following countries and conflicts. Bosnia, Korea, Afghanastan. And I want to mention, she is a mother of a Special forces soldier, a wife of an AGR Sergeant and the grandmother of three children. She took a large Company sized unit to Iraq as their First Sergeant, every one of them came back alive and well this month. With many thanks to her.
    Thanks for allowing me to share this in your blog Kit, I feel so much beeter now.
    Salute to you.