Marines.Together We Served

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Coming Home with Honor

The phrase, “coming home with honor,” has been bandied about for the past several years by politicos, pundits, military leaders and elected representatives. From conservatives to liberals each has proclaimed the importance of bringing our troops home with honor.

What exactly does “coming home with honor” mean?

Allow me to bypass all the foolish talk from some quarters that suggests we can pack up our troops and bring them home without winning the war against terrorism. Coming home with honor can only mean one thing: Victory!

As a Vietnam vet, I can assure you that coming home safely does not mean coming home with honor. Sure, I was glad to be home. All of us were, despite the death of more than fifty-eight thousand of our fellow warriors. But coming home without a victory is bitterness and gall. We answered the call of our nation, crossing the pond (euphemism for the Pacific Ocean) to fight in a country most Americans couldn’t locate on a map. Over a period of nearly ten years American forces won every battle in Vietnam. To then come home without a victory is beyond exasperating. That is not coming home with honor.

There is no substitute for victory. Soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines do not join the military to be safe. They join the military to keep the rest of us safe. They have counted the cost, deciding some things in life are more important than their own personal safety. One of the great remarks in the acceptance speech made by the Republican vice presidential nominee, Sarah Palin, was when she said, “There is only one man in this election who has ever really fought for you.” The obvious answer is John McCain. After five and a half years as a POW in the Hanoi Hilton he returned home as a hero, but the nation he had left had dramatically changed.

Recently in a town hall meeting in New York, McCain said, "We will win the war in Iraq. We are winning that war. Our troops will come home with honor and victory." That’s the kind of talk I want to hear. That was music to the ears of Sarah Palin, whose son is heading for Iraq with the Army infantry on September 11. It should also be music to the Democratic vice presidential candidate’s ears, Joe Biden, as well. His son, Beau, a captain in the Delaware Army National Guard, heads for a tour of duty in Iraq next month. John McCain has two sons currently in the military. His oldest son from his first marriage, Doug, previously served as a Navy pilot. Son Jack is scheduled to graduate from the Naval Academy next year, following in the footsteps of his father, grandfather, and great grandfather. His youngest son, Jimmy, has already served a tour in Iraq as a Marine. If you watched the Republican National Convention, you would have seen that Cindy McCain was wearing a bejeweled pin on her lapel that said: NAVY USMC. I loved it!

In Sarah Palin’s acceptance speech, she made this telling comment about John McCain, “He's a man who wore the uniform of this country for 22 years, and refused to break faith with those troops in Iraq who have now brought victory within sight. And as the mother of one of those troops, that is exactly the kind of man I want as commander in chief.”

Let me be clear. During the primaries I was not a fan of John McCain. However, he is a patriot who understands the importance of allowing our military to finish the job. He knows that our nation is under assault by radicals who are determined to destroy us. Denying our troops the opportunity to win the fight is tantamount to emasculating our military. We did this once before with Vietnam. We dare not do so again.

Victory is the only answer. Then, and only then, can we bring the troops home with honor.

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