3rd ID Making Us Proud!
“The 3rd Infantry Division has been all over the news as your soldiers are aggressively taking the fight to the enemy in Operation Marne Torch. They are expelling Al Qaida from a safe haven, and they are capturing insurgents to make the population secure.
But the fight is not just theirs; it is shared with the Iraqis. Everywhere Task Force Marne operates, the Iraqi soldiers are strong and their leaders are stronger.
Every time I meet an Iraqi leader, they are doing the right thing. Our division is paired with the 6th Iraqi Army Division and the 8th Iraqi Army Division – who are always focused on doing the right thing. Their commanders are magnificent Iraqis, not Shia, not Sunni. They lead soldiers to do the right thing….”
Read the rest here.
An editorial you will never see in our local rag:
DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL candidate John Edwards said he believes the war on terror is a bumper sticker.
So may folks in London.
And after Monday, so may Spanish tourists in Yemen.
Terrorists or suspected terrorists hit all three venues during the past few days. Fortunately, no one was killed in the attack at the Glasgow airport or the attempted car bombings in London, believed to be the work of al-Qaida operatives . But nine Spanish tourists visiting a temple weren’t so lucky.
They were killed by a car bomb driven by a suspected al-Qaida suicide bomber. Two Yemeni citizens perished as well.
U.S. airports properly tightened up on security over the weekend. More air marshals will be traveling on overseas flights, which is a sound move. Credit British officials for their quick and sure response as well.
However, the best defense is a good offense. Hit terrorists first, and hit them where they live. That’s no bumper sticker. That’s called taking the fight to the enemy before the enemy murders more innocent people. (my emphasis)
I’d say the 3rd ID is definitely doing just that.
And from a supporter who has said so much of what goes through my mind as I adopt a new soldier.
“They are human beings to me, too,” I countered. “I look into their faces just before they board the plane to Iraq.”
I reminded him of the Adopt-a-Soldier table I maintain at Hunter Army Air Field, where deploying soldiers sign up to be sponsored by a civilian while they are in Iraq.
He had the high ground, of course. He is a Vietnam veteran. What do I know?
What, indeed. The sad truth is I know a little bit more than I did three months ago. That’s when I approached Major General Rick Lynch, commanding general of the Third Infantry Division, with the adopt a soldier idea.
In the back of my mind, I knew that some of the soldiers who boarded those planes at Hunter would not be coming home. I even thought about it as they lined up before my table to ask for sponsors. But it wouldn’t be that one, I thought, or the next one, or him. Not him. He just showed me a picture of his two month-old baby girl.
Last week, however, things started to get real. All of the soldiers who have been adopted so far are in the 3rd ID’s Second Brigade or the Combat Aviation Brigade. And a few days ago, those brigades began to take casualties.
The sponsors know that their soldiers might be killed in combat. They don’t like to think about it, of course. But when I pushed the “send” button on the first casualty notification last week, I asked all of them to think about it. Three names. Do any of them belong to you, I asked.
These good-hearted people have e-mailed encouragement, sent care packages and prayed for their soldier’s safety. The soldiers write back when the war gives them a free moment. A shy love is taking root among them.
Over the weekend, the sponsor’s message came. One of the three soldiers killed in combat was hers. I picked through my file until I found her name printed in red at the top of his sign-up card.
I don’t know her, I didn’t know her soldier. But I held in my hand the last request he had made before he flew off to Iraq. He wanted to be adopted.
Had I earned the right to sit at my computer and cry? Is she qualified to grieve at Ft. Stewart’s Warriors Walk, where in the next month or so he will be honored in a tree-dedication ceremony?
Some soldiers don’t think so. The bond between the fallen warrior and his comrades is sacred. It is indecent for those of us who are not part of this exclusive brotherhood to witness their grief.
We have not felt the exhaustion, smelled the sweat, put hand to weapon in the wild chaos of a fire fight. Unbaptized by blood, how dare we stand with the dead warrior’s brothers-in-arms and blubber our easy tears.
But the men whose deaths we mourn were, first and last, Americans. We civilians bear the ultimate responsibility for sending them off to war.
Do we not also own the obligation to look into the eyes of the grieving parents, the heartsick spouse, the confused and frightened children? Are we too self-serving to temper and refine our stand on war – any war – by wading into its bloody wake?
That’s all we’re doing, though. Just wading.
We don’t show up at the memorial service on crutches, our camouflage pants pinned up where our leg should have been, trying to comfort our fallen buddy’s family. There is no way we could qualify to witness that. Yet we owe it to the Americans who stepped forward to fight for our country to cultivate our sensibility to the human cost of war. And to learn humility. Most of all, to learn humility.
Perhaps the best place to start is at a memorial service for a soldier we never knew. On the back row, with our heads bowed.
Carol Megathlin is a Savannah writer. To adopt a 3rd ID soldier, contact Carol.Megathlin@savannahnow.com.