Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Get Up Stand Up

The battle raging the past few months concerning free speech (i.e. Muhammad cartoons) has gotten me thinking about what things are worth fighting for. Should we battle Islamic extremism in the world today? Should we fight for freedom of speech? Should we fight for freedom to be spread across the world to places that are unaccustomed to it? Should we fight to stop the production of nuclear weapons in countries like Iran? What exactly should we do as the sole superpower in the world today? Do we have an obligation, or even just a good reason, to fight for these things or should we just build a big fence around America and keep everything at bay for as long as we can?

I do not have the answers for all of these questions but I do believe in a few generalities that can apply to all situations. I do believe America should do what it can to promote freedom, liberty, and peace. For me this belief carries over into problems like Iran’s nuclear weapons program. For example if Iran gets a nuke then they will use it on Israel and eventually threaten other countries in order to spread their influence. A lot of America’s critics say that we are hypocritical because we have nukes but don’t want other countries to get them too. Well unlike America, Iran’s intention for their nukes would be to spread Islamic extremism instead of freedom like we want to. Relativism does not come into play here just because Iran thinks Islamic extremism is better and we think freedom and liberty are better. Democratic freedoms are better then an extreme religious rule any day of the week, no ifs ands or buts about it. Another one of my generalities is that I believe America has the right to kill those who threaten our country. Whether our enemies are terrorists or an entire army I believe we have the right to defend ourselves against all enemies foreign and domestic. The last generality and perhaps most important is that I believe we should protect the freedoms and way of life that our forefathers guaranteed for us in the Constitution and it’s subsequent Amendments. For as John Adams said: “A Constitution of Government once changed from Freedom, can never be restored. Liberty, once lost, is lost forever.”


Natan Sharansky, a former senior government minister in Israel, says in his book Fear No Evil in which he recounts his experience in a Soviet jail after being arrested for requesting to emigrate to Israel (apparently an unacceptable practice in Communist Russia) that “To cooperate with the KGB would mean letting down our growing number of supporters in the free world and undermining their continued determination to help us.” In this passage Sharansky was explaining his resolve not to give the KGB any pertinent information concerning his arrest that could in turn be used against his friends and in general to the detriment of his supporters. Like Sharansky not wanting to talk to the KGB, Americans are in a similar situation: if we appease terrorists it is the same as cooperating with them. By not directly taking up a stance against them we help further their cause by letting it gain steam before doing anything about it. A pre-emptive strike like we made in Iraq is the only course of action for America to take right now against terrorism of all facets. Our very way of life is under attack and the longer we wait around to do something about it the harder it will be to defeat. In his book, The Gathering Storm, Churchill makes the point over and over that every appeasement of the Nazis was a missed opportunity to confront the threat at it smallest. When totalitarian threats are not confronted, it always comes to pass that they grow.

Many people would have you believe that you cannot prove a terrorist’s intent until after they commit an attack like 9/11. But lets think about this for a minute. If a burglar breaks into your house but has yet to steal something then are you able to discern his true intent by his mere presence in your house, or do you need to let him steal something and then leave before you understand completely what his true intentions were? Of course not!

Sharansky continues with the same outlook that “I knew that each time the KGB made a political arrest, it required permission from the political leadership. If I recanted, it would only make it easier for the KGB to receive permission to initiate new repressions and another round of arrests.” Each time we let the terrorists and those who support them get away with something (uranium enrichment for example) then we encourage them to do so again and again. If you let your kid get away with stealing a cookie one day and then slap her hand the next for doing so, she will most likely do so again hoping that she can get away with it like she did the first time.

Peace On Earth, Good Will Toward Men

Why can’t there just be peace in the world? People like the Christian Peacemakers (aka soon to be foreign hostages that we have to risk our lives to save) try to work for everyone just to get along and live in harmony, Muslims hand in hand with Americans, Palestinians hugging Jews. Well sort of, as long as you are an Iraqi Baathist and not an American, or a Palestinian and not a Jew you will get support from the “Christian” Peacemakers. Why there can’t be peace in this world is an easy question to answer. When two groups have diametrically opposed views like say for example Islamic extremists who think Allah wants all women to be completely covered and American women who are so liberated they think they should be able to go topless in public then there wont be any reconciliation between the two groups. This example is of course lame but I am sure everyone can think of a few better examples of the unavoidable culture clash that would ensue between Islamofacists and Americans (other then Ramsey Clark and John Walker Lindh of course). Perhaps a parallel between Nazi Germany and Jewish people could be drawn to mirror my point even better. Nazi’s wanted to kill all Jews while Jews didn’t all want to die. Is there any common ground where the two groups could find peace? No.

So it is for the reason that I believe peace will never prevail on earth that I think America must do what it can to ensure freedom in this world. This sentiment has and will continue to win America it’s fair share of critics but I invite all of those critics to come to Iraq and visit the many people tortured and oppressed by Saddam and ask them if they if they appreciate being free from his tyrannical rule. Ask the Kuwaitis if they are appreciative of America for freeing them from Saddam in 1991. Ask Jews if they are appreciative of the sacrifices Americans made to free them from Hitler. Ask the many immigrants in America if they are appreciative for the sacrifices Americans have made in the past in order to secure a free country where they could find asylum from their less than tolerant countries.

I think one thing that we have to keep in mind about Islamic extremism is that it is an ideology and should be treated as such. Islam is a religion; Islamic extremism is an ideology much like KKK members who call themselves Christians would be considered. We do not need to fear insulting regular Muslims by singling out Islamic extremists for criticism, that is of course if regular Muslims can tell the difference between themselves and extremists like regular Christians can differentiate between themselves and abortion clinic bombers.

Free Speech

These same sentiments (see Sharansky quotes above) apply to my feelings about free speech. If free speech is worth fighting for, and I believe it is, then we need to confront all opposition to it before it becomes to late. The First Amendment’s guarantee that “Congress shall make no law… abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press…” ensures our right to say what we want, and in relation to the Muhammad cartoon controversy can actually be used to punish those who use their speech to threaten or provoke a fight between others like this guy below (that is if he was in America of course).

According to Eugene Volokh as quoted in The Heritage Guide to the Constitution: “There is, however, a small set of rather narrow exceptions to free speech protection.”

Speech that is reasonably perceived as a threat of violence (and not just rhetorical hyperbole) can be punished. Virginia v. Black (2003).

Face-to-face insults that are addressed to a particular person and are likely to cause an imminent fight can be punished. More generalized offensive speech that is not addressed to a particular person cannot be punished even if it is profane or deeply insulting. Cohen v. California (1971).

So if we as Americans want to draw attention to the fact that the prophet Muhammad is not off limits to talk about and in doing so offend Muslims by showing cartoons of Muhammad then so be it, we have the right to do so and should do so in an exercise of our freedoms. Forget insulting Muslims, if you are not a Muslim then you should not be judged by it’s tenets, much the same way as if you are not a Christian then you do not have to stand up to judgment based upon Christian teachings. If you are not trying to live by the rules of a certain religion then you should not be subjected to the punishments imposed by that religion.

Basically these are the thoughts that have been going through my head the past few weeks. Sorry about this not being a highly polished essay. Take it for what it is worth and know that your military has in the past, and is willing now to fight for what is right. Of course that is if we can convince our politicians to do the same. In today’s politically correct world where everyone is afraid of offending someone or some group we need a new breed of politician who can stand up for what is right with the intestinal fortitude needed in order to procure our way of life now and for future generations. We need to reward these politicians with our support and votes so that they can rest assured that their job is to do the right thing and not to please the most amount of people possible by saying the politically correct thing. We need more Dick Cheneys to tell people like Patrick Leahy to "Go f*#k yourself" when they truly deserve it.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Music From Heaven

On my first deployment to Iraq I was stationed at a prison camp in southern Iraq. The invasion had just started and prisoners were coming in bunches. One of the main needs at our camp was for Arabic speaking translators that could assist the military with the handling of the prisoners. The translators were mainly from Kuwait but some were native Kuwaitis who were living as far away as London, England. The translators that came to our camp were not simply looking for work but instead were intelligent men who held jobs as engineers, scientists, and computer programmers. I happened to live right next to the translators and after a few weeks at the base I became good friends with a large number of them.

We would often get together at night when we had all finished our work for the day. Usually they would eat together and on the nights that I didn’t join them for dinner I would at least stop by to talk and drink tea with them. They all spoke English exceptionally well and loved to speak with some fellow soldiers and I in order to hone their English. We would play darts or horseshoes and often played volleyball well into the night. I even managed to spend a few days in Kuwait City with a couple of them. I relished the time with them because they would tell me about their lives and answer any questions that I had. Instead of our relationship being purely professional I know they considered me a friend.

Dowtown Kuwait City

One particular night I was sitting in a circle with about 7 or 8 translators and I brought up the topic of Desert Storm. All of them were over the age of 30 and were able to recall with clarity the events of 1991. One translator who was about 50 years old spoke up above the rest and told me of his harrowing story during the invasion of Kuwait by the Iraqi army until his release from prison several months after the war ended.

He recounted to me the initial invasion of Kuwait by the Iraqis with horror: “They roamed the streets and frightened everyone. They stole from and killed those who stood up to them,” he said. The sense that I got from him and the other translators was that Kuwait had changed overnight from a civil and ordered society to one of lawlessness perpetuated by Iraqi soldiers. All Kuwaitis were living in fear of the soldiers and were afraid to stand up for their rights for fear of being killed. These feelings lasted for Kuwaitis until one day as my friend described to me that they heard “music coming from heaven.” With a twinkle in his eye he recalled the day that he first heard the bombs being dropped by American planes. The sound of bombing, a sound that would frighten most people, was the music from heaven that he heard. For Kuwaitis the sound of our bombing meant that they would soon be free. Someone was coming to their aid; the world had not forgotten their plight.

Soon after the bombing started he told me that Kuwaitis felt emboldened to stand up to their oppressors. His brother-in-law felt the same way and tried to speak out against some Iraqi soldiers who were harassing him one afternoon. Unfortunately for him no American soldiers were in Kuwait yet and the Iraqis killed him. The bombing instilled in many Kuwaitis a false sense of security and unfortunately for my friends brother-in-law it cost him his life.

Right before American ground forces liberated Kuwait my friend went to his place of business one afternoon to find that most of his things had been confiscated by the Iraqis. When he went to complain to an Iraqi officer nearby he was handcuffed and sent to an Iraqi prison. He told me about the several months he spent in a dark, dirty, and damp cell with numerous other Kuwaitis who had been arrested along with him. At first he said it was hard for him to even breathe in the cell and it was some time before he became used to life in the prison. His family back in Kuwait assumed he was dead since he did not return home from work and was not allowed to communicate with them from prison.

When Iraq surrendered to America one of their promises was to release all of the prisoners they took during their time in Kuwait. Keeping in line with his character Saddam did not make true on this promise and it was several weeks later that my friend was released from prison. On the day that he was released he told me about the horror that awaited the prisoners in his camp. As the prisoners were led out of their cells they were split up into two groups: one group stood to the right and one to the left on the field outside of the prison. My friend went to the group on the left and they then bordered buses and were driven back to Kuwait, the group on the right were gunned down and buried on top of each other in a mass grave. My friend estimated that 3000 people were killed that day. Saddam used the release of those prisoners, among others held at different camps, to show the world that he was complying with the terms of his surrender. Since no records were kept indicating how many prisoners were taken and kept by Iraq it was easy for Saddam to lie to the world.

Downtown Kuwait with the Independence Tower in the background commemorating the Iraq invasion in 1990

My friend arrived home to find that his country was free of Iraqis and he was once again reunited with his family. He told me that he would forever be indebted to the Americans who came to his country’s aid when they needed it the most. He, along with the other translators, assured me that all Kuwaitis remembered what America had done for them and they praised us for trying to do the same for the Iraqi people. The look in his eyes that night has stayed with me to this day and whenever I question our motives in Iraq I remember that everything else aside we have given freedom to a people whom desperately needed it. Just like my friend who was locked away unjustly, the Iraqi people today have suffered enough for things they had no control over. I believe it is high time America and the world over began to hear stories from the people who have been affected positively by war. There are countless stories like this one but unfortunately most people have never heard them.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Milblog Wire

So there is a new thing going on that is sweeping the country, well not exactly but it is going to be big before long. Uncle J at Blackfive has started a Milblog Wire that will act like any other news wire. Here is the description in his own words

"What is really going on in Iraq?

That may be the question more people want an answer to than any other. In a recent poll asking which institution is most admired, the military topped the list. We now have the stories straight from these folks who have boots on the ground, and who the public has a large degree of trust in.

The Milblog Wire functions like any other wire service, aggregating stories from the field and making them available for your readership. The difference is now it comes direct from folks the American public has a high degree of trust in, not an overseas stringer.The content providers for the Milblog Wire are serving military members, their former comrades in arms, and their friends and families.

We are not affiliated with the Defense Department or acting on it’s behalf. We are self-policing for accuracy and scrupulous in maintaining the confidence of the public. We offer the good news that is overlooked by the ambulance chasers and a firsthand glimpse into the world most people just read about. We also don’t shrink from reporting the difficulties and downfalls of our efforts. We will provide the full gamut of rich media reports from our correspondents."

I am only one of the milbloggers that will appear on the milblogwire and I am among good company. We need our readers to help get the word out so tell your local media all about it. They in turn can print anyone of the stories written by those of us who are participating while standard freelance writers fees apply. A percentage of all the money made will go to Soldiers Angels to help continue their great work. Please get the word out, we aren't in it for the money but rather, just to get the truth out about Iraq and Afghanistan.

More info can be found at I have the link a little lower to the right because for some reason I cannot do intext links. If anyone knows how to link in the text for Mac users then please let me know.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Call To Arms

There comes a time when like minded people need to stand up for what they believe is right. America is fighting today to battle Islamic extremism whose very beliefs threaten our way of life. Freedom of speech is under attack and if we hold it to be of importance in this great country of ours we need to fight back against those who wish it to be taken from us. I mentioned in my post “Advice for Soldiers” about C.S. Lewis’ book The Abolition of Man and how in that book Lewis writes about objective values. He writes further about Communists who wish to dictate to the world what they can and can't believe. The Communist leaders wanted to do away with God and in his stead place themselves as the new gods able to control the masses. Well today Islamofacists want to do the same thing. They want to dictate to the world exactly what they believe Allah wants us to do. They want to take away freedom of speech and in its place put Sharia (Islamic law).

Here in America something similar is going on albeit in different regards. I am thinking specifically about John Kerry and his recent creation of a “legal trust fund” to handle the costs associated with his lawsuits against the group known as the Swift Vets and POWs for Truth. Instead of this fund being purely defensive the sense that I get is that Kerry is using this fund as a preemptive attack on his enemies. Kerry's activities are actually a stealth war against those vietnam vets who have called him to account for his many lies over the years disparaging honorable men, which, if the truth be known, is a Machiavellian move to eliminate a thorn in his side which torpedoed his presidential campaign. Basically he is a bitter loser. Here is an excerpt from an article on the SV&PFT website:


WASHINGTON,D.C.-- "Vietnam veterans will not be intimidated by the likes of John Kerry, " retired Air Force Col. George “Bud” Day said today, responding to news the Massachusetts Senator had created a legal defense trust fund to pay his on-going court battles against a group of highly decorated Vietnam veterans. "No matter how much money Kerry raises he can't buy his way out or hide his disgraceful betrayal of those brave veterans who gave their all in the service of America."

Col. Day added: "I'm sure he (Sen. Kerry) has many rich, veteran-hating friends. Maybe Hanoi Jane (Fonda) will pick up his legal bills. But, he's not exactly penniless. Why one of the wealthiest men in the Senate would expect others to pay his lawyers and use questionable Senate privileges against veterans he's wronged is shameful. Like everything about this character, it's phony, deceitful, and a sham."

Col. Day is the Chairman of the Vietnam Veterans Legacy Foundation (VVLF), a group of Vietnam combat veterans, primarily former POWs, who sued Sen. Kerry last year for "conspiracy and defamation" in Philadelphia Federal Court. Col. Day is the most decorated Air Force veteran alive, a Medal of Honor recipient, a veteran of three wars and a former POW held captive by Vietnamese Communists for over five years.
The rest of the article can be found at

The Swift Vets and POWs for Truth have to defend themselves in court for speaking the truth about John Kerry during the 2004 election. As they say on their website they did not ask for this fight back in 2004 or do they want it now. They are doing what they believe is the right thing to do. They are clearing the names of the Vietnam vets who John Kerry has defamed ever since he got back from his 4 month “tour” in Vietnam.

Please support these guys in their battle against Kerry. Support them for standing up and speaking the truth. Support them for exercising their right of freedom of speech. Support them for continuing to love their country enough to fight the lies and innuendoes that continue to this day to hinder the efforts of America's fighting men and women. Take action now because if we don’t do something now it will be too late. Visit their website and donate to their cause and then tell everyone you know about it.

I was not contacted by anyone at The Swift Vets and POWs for Truth to write this. I am doing so on my own accord because I believe it is the right thing to do. There will be more to come on this topic soon.

Monday, April 10, 2006

Story at FrontLine Forum

There is a great new site up called Michael Yon's Frontline Forum that you can find at that everyone should check out. Coincidentally I wrote the first story posted on the site but that of course is not the reason why I am telling people to visit the site. I often complain about the poor reporting by the MSM so what better way to get the truth then by hearing it from soldiers. Check out the Frontline Forum for yourself and then tell all your friends and family about it. Then check out my post entitled "The Future of Iraq" for more of my thoughts on the topic of my story at the FLF.

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Advice for Soldiers

Who am I to give advice to soldiers? I have only been in the military for four years and am a reservist. I don’t know army regulations, how to fill out paper work, or exactly how to be a model non-commissioned officer. I guess I am learning but I am on the slow track to success.

If I know anything it is how to do my job while on deployment. I have only spent about a year off of active duty so I know more about deployment then anything else. I am a modern day reservist. As one of my friends so duly noted we have a new motto in the reserves: “One weekend off a month, two weeks of leave in the summer.” Granted the reserves are scaling back in Iraq but I am one of the lucky ones who came back for a second tour. There are some reservists who love it over here and are on their third tour but those guys are crazy in my book.

So what is my advice to soldiers then you may be asking yourself? Well I recently read a couple of books that shed light on my day-to-day living in the military. The first book is called Stoic Warriors* by Nancy Sherman, the second is The Abolition of Man** written by C.S. Lewis. Both books provide examples of how to better live as a member of the military albeit in different regards.

In Stoic Warriors Nancy Sherman looks at the writings of the Stoics like Epictetus, Seneca, and Marcus Aurelius among others and discusses how the ancient philosophy of Stoicism acts as a guide for not only those in the military but also for people facing hardships in life. In The Abolition of Man C.S. Lewis discusses the importance and the need to retain universal values in the face of opposition. Although Lewis was writing against Communism and Fascism I believe his arguments can still be applied to certain situations in today’s world.

My advice comes in generalities that should be applied by soldiers in a way so as to fit their own situations. In no way is this advice complete but rather, only a few things that I have come across that help me to survive with a sense of purpose and humanity while on deployment. Both books go much further in depth then I do here and I recommend reading both of them but brace yourself before reading Lewis, he can be tough at times.

1. My first and most important piece of advice for soldiers on deployment is about respect and empathy towards others. There have been plenty of times on deployment that I would have been more than happy to strangle a fellow soldier or cuss at a local national. Times tend to get tense when living in confined areas with so many other soldiers and while mixing with the local population. While I am not advocating complacency for soldiers I believe as Nancy Sherman says “we need to actively empathize with people, to try to become attuned to their habits and ways and needs, so that however foreign or different they may be, we come to see them as persons in their own right, worthy of dignitary respect” (171). If one can follow this advice then they will easily be able to function in the military. There are people in the military from all over the country and from all walks of life with different habits and different customs. If a soldier can “imagine those in the farthest orbits of our lives as connected to us in ways that make them more like those closest to the center, namely ourselves, and family, and friends”(171), then their deployment will be much easier and everyday conflicts will be easier to avoid.

Sherman exhorts later that this Stoic ideal “requires cultivating humanity through empathetic identification and respect” (179). She then quotes Seneca as saying in his famous discourse On Anger “Let us cultivate humanity” and continues with her appeal that these “words should be a part of any warrior’s honor code” (179). If soldiers can learn to heed these words then they could go a long way in their treatment of others especially in Iraq and Afghanistan where they are surrounded by those who are much different then they are.

2. My second piece of advice concerns cultivating appropriate military manners. Often times soldiers find themselves frustrated with their chain of command and show disrespect as a result. I have plenty of personal experience on this subject and would like to share my advice in the hopes that it helps soldiers in the future to avoid making the same mistakes that I have.

Stoics have a lot to say on the topic of emotions and hold, in my opinion, some harsh and cold beliefs about them, however, their belief concerning body language strikes me as appropriate for all members of the military. Sherman remarks that “Seneca’s claim is that displays of attitude in body language, facial demeanor, tone of voice, and so on are critical elements of doing what is appropriate, regardless of whether they faithfully represent what is inside”(63). Basically Seneca believes that what we show on the outside does not necessarily have to be what we feel on the inside, but it should reflect the appropriate response required to fit the situation. For a soldier this means saying “Yes Sir” even though they wish to argue with their commander, or standing at ease for a sergeant they don’t necessarily respect. Now however much the soldier may not want to do these things the ancient Stoics believe as Sherman says “it may be important for oneself, as a way of coaxing inner change”(63). Once again in my experience of putting this advice to work I have changed some basic attitudes towards higher-ranking soldiers that I did not necessarily see eye to eye with. By giving them the respect that I was supposed to I in turn was treated well by them and over time changed my general attitude toward them not only as soldiers but also as human beings.

3. My third and last piece of advice comes from C.S. Lewis. In The Abolition of Man he advocates the importance of values that are common to soldiers like courage and honor. He explains, “A dogmatic belief in objective value is necessary to the very idea of a rule which is not tyranny or an obedience which is not slavery”(73). Now this advice might be idealistic but I believe if soldiers are to affect change in the Middle East where people are accustomed to tyranny and harsh rule then they need to spread objective values like freedom and liberty. I think that for Iraq to form a government that will ensure the equality and freedom of all of it’s people then they need strong examples of how and why those values have worked in the U.S. and need to see them displayed on a daily basis by American soldiers.

I believe that soldiers do a good job of behaving themselves and acting appropriately but I think a reminder to do so is always helpful. I have no allusions that Iraq will change overnight but I believe it if soldiers can provide a good example then it will only help change the hearts and minds of Iraqis.

So my advice is undoubtedly incomplete but I believe the three points I discussed would be good for all soldiers to hear.

*Sherman, Nancy. Stoic Warriors. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2005.
** Lewis, C.S.The Abolition of Man. San Francisco: HarperCollins, 2001 ed.

Monday, April 03, 2006

On Purple Hearts and POWs

If you are a fan of the actor Will Farrell you probably know one of his famous skits from Saturday Night Live in which he exclaims that he “drives a Dodge Stratus!” while at the dinner table with his family one night. He does so in order to command respect from his family and to show that his what he says has credibility because he drives a “nice” car. I attach the same sentiment that Will Farrell has in this skit to the sentiment that politicians have when they campaign on their war service or record as a prisoner of war. Before I get into this post I want to make sure that everyone knows that I am in no way poking fun or making light of people who have been POWs or have been awarded a purple heart, however, John Kerry is still open game. With that understood lets make fun of some war vets (geez just kidding of course.)

I thought about writing on this topic after I saw some pictures on the Internet of Tammy Duckworth who is running for congress on the premise that she is a veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom and opposed to the war. Imagine that: a soldier who broke free from the mind control of the government and disagrees with our presence in Iraq, why we should elect her right now! Quick someone send me an absentee ballot. To think that being a veteran is qualification enough to run for office is absurd. I have been deployed twice why am I not the President yet?

A soldier may know how to shoot their weapon, jump out of a plane, and march in time but does that say anything about their ability to control the economy, knowing the law, or being able to decide the country’s fate? I do believe being a veteran is an important step in becoming an elected official. Serving in the military shows a love for one’s country and a desire to put other’s needs before one’s own. Serving in the military gives one a better understanding about national defense and what it takes to have a free country. Past and present members of the military know what it is to sacrifice. They have spent many days away from their families: birthdays, holidays, anniversaries, and the births of their children to name a few.

Do all elected officials need to be prior-military members? I would say no. Read my previous blog called “What It Takes” and you will understand my position on those who have not and will not serve in the military. I do believe it would greatly benefit those who make the decisions concerning military matters in this country to have some prior military experience (JROTC does not count.) I think military experience would also be a great help for journalists who report on military matters. Then journalists would know the difference between mortar rounds and missiles.

So someone has a purple heart, or an enemy marksmanship badge as soldiers like to call them, does that make them any different then someone without a purple heart? Does that make them any better of a person or political leader? Does it make them more likely to be elected to public office? No, no, and yes apparently. I know many great soldiers who have served in combat situations and have performed honorably and never received a purple heart. I know some dead beats that wouldn’t be fit to lead themselves to the grocery store who have purple hearts. While I do not know anyone who was a prisoner of war, I would be willing to put money on it that they could fall under my same assessment of those with purple hearts. However, enduring under the duress of being a prisoner of war is commendable and I imagine it builds quite a bit of character, which of course is needed in a good leader.

The bottom line is that someone’s ability to lead does not come from their being hurt or captured by an enemy during a time of war. The ability and smarts to lead comes independently of military awards. Watching John Kerry campaign last election and mention over and over about his three Purple Hearts was sickening to me. Someone has to be utterly despicable to talk about how great they were during war. Real soldiers do their job and get on with life. I for one wouldn’t be bragging about a Purple Heart and hope to never get one. However, like I said before I do not mean to demean anyone with a Purple Heart I am merely making a point, please don’t take me the wrong way. Those who sacrifice their bodies in defense of freedom are honorable and should be remembered as being so. Tammy Duckworth should be commended for her service to the country, not elected because of it. Now if she has a good platform and seems like a decent woman then maybe one should vote for her, but votes should not be cast in favor of someone solely because of their service record.

The purpose of this post is not to discuss Tammy Duckworth (she merely serves as an example) but rather, to bring light to the fact that people tend to give veterans way too much credit. We are normal people believe it or not with one glaring difference: we served in the military. We definitely have our faults and while some of those in the military may be among the “best and brightest” most of us aren’t. In the future vote for people based on their ability to get their intended job done not because they were wounded or captured by an enemy combatant