Marines.Together We Served

Monday, January 01, 2007

Update: Iraq

There’s a lot of stuff and nonsense that you and I are being subjected to when it comes to the Iraq War. Those who have been there will tell you a completely different story than the one typically found in America’s newsrooms.

I was listening to a talk-radio program a few days ago where I heard the host make a phone connection with a military spokesman for the Multi-National Force (MNF) in Iraq. Although the conversation did not tell me anything I didn’t already know, I became excited when I heard the spokesman, Major General William B. Caldwell IV, mention a web site that the MNF has put up. Since I was in the car on my way to an appointment, I made note of the web site so I could check it out later back in my office.

The web site is called “Operation Iraqi Freedom” and is located at: http://www.mnf-iraq.com/. When you get to this site you will read a headline like this: “ISF Proves Eager to Help” (ISF – Iraqi Security Force). The first line of the story states: “Baghdad – The Iraqi Security Force and Iraqi Police are eager to help find solutions for the challenges facing their country, and they are becoming more capable of assuming increased responsibility for security, a senior U.S. military officer said Wednesday (Dec 27).”

Gosh! That sounds like good news to me. And this is coming from the people who are “boots on the ground.” They’re right there in the thick of it.

Let me share a few other items that might possibly interest you that I bet you haven’t read in the Main Stream Media. Take, for example, a video clip from TSgt Jessica Elias where she describes what she does as a medical flight technician. This is a brief sixty second clip. At the conclusion she gives the reasons why she is in Iraq with the Air Force. She wants her son and nieces and nephews to hopefully grow up in a more peaceful world. That pretty well sums up the feelings of all our men and women in uniform serving in harms way. They want a better world for future generations of Americans and all those who yearn to be free. Sort of sounds like the invitation on the Statue of Liberty: “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses, yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed, to me: I lift my lamp beside the golden door.”

I don’t want you to think that this site is all peaches and cream. Hardly. “Press Releases” is on the front page. The first one says, “Insurgents kill woman, policeman, wound children, in attack in Ramadi.” But then there’s this one I like, “Eastern Baghdad operation concludes with capture of 13 suspected insurgents.” And then this one, “U.S. Army unit rescues kidnapped Iraqis from insurgents.” Yea Team!

There’s also a section on the page called “Freedom Facts.” Here’s the freedom fact posted the day I’m writing this article: “Today, the Iraqi Air Force consists of more than 800 members, and like all Iraqi forces, is being rebuilt as part of the overall program to build a new Iraqi defense force.” I like the sounds of that!

Here is a story that is not covered in our media, but should be continually. There’s a video news story produced by the military which highlights the work of the military Civil Affairs group. These are U.S. soldiers who are working with local Iraqi contractors to rebuild and refurbish the schools in this war-torn land. Watch the video clip and see the amazing transformation of one school, and then look at the eagerness of the Iraqi children who now attend this school.

There’s another section called “Daily Stories.” These stories change frequently as this web site is constantly being updated. One of the daily stories says, “Army Engineers Bring Joy to Iraqi Orphanage.” The opening sentence says, “Orphanages recently received numerous packages of stuffed animals delivered to promote goodwill between Iraqi and U.S. children.”

The men and women of the U.S. military are no different today than our fathers and grandfathers who have fought our nation’s wars. It has been my distinct honor and privilege to serve beside these patriots who love their families and country more than self, and they love you and me enough to place themselves in harms way so we can “breathe free.”

This freedom we enjoy comes at a price. It always has, and it always will. Just yesterday I attended the funeral for a Marine killed in combat in Iraq just before Christmas. Though I was not able to make it for the funeral service which was held in this young man’s church, I’m told there were nearly three thousand people in attendance. I was able to attend the grave-side service so I can tell you this much: At the San Joaquin National Cemetery there was a sea of automobiles along with two buses. I’d guess there were easily a thousand or more who braved the cold wind and threat of rain to attend this ceremony that lasted about ten minutes simply because they wanted to honor an American hero who gave to us his last full measure of devotion.

That’s the stuff that has made this country great.

Be proud America! Your sons and daughters are on the job.

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