Monday, March 20, 2006

A Soldier Home On Leave

The following text was taken from a local newspaper article. To protect the subject's anonymity, I am not going to post the link, because the story is very "hometown", including names, places, and pictures of the soldier and his family.

The article is a human interest piece about a soldier who has just returned home on leave from Iraq.
His job, he said, was to serve as the eyes and ears of other members in his unit, seeking out enemy targets while his fellow soldiers fired rounds over his head. He also helped conduct searches, patrols and raids on neighborhoods, rooting out rebel soldiers and stockpiled weapons. [He] witnessed firsthand much of what we hear about on the news every day: the violence, the roadside bombs, the close calls. But the only way to deal with the extremes was to make it feel like a routine, he said. "It became normal."
If you could see the pictures, you would see a typical high school football type, a big kid not unlike so many others you'd see on any given day. But there was one thing I found quite interesting.
There's no simple way for [the soldier] to answer the question when he's asked if he supports the war in Iraq.

"I really wouldn't say 'support' the war," he said Sunday afternoon over coffee, "but that's our job, to protect the country. It's tough. It's hard to pinpoint what we're over there for."

"The way I look at it, I was given my orders. I carried them out, and I came home."
Let's recap.

He doesn't support the war. He thinks he's there protecting our country, because that's what soldiers are told; he has to believe it or he would question his purpose even more than he already does. Still, he cannot explain why the war is being fought. "It's hard to pinpoint what we're over there for," indeed.

But the saddest moment in his story is the rationale he employs to justify his participation in this unjust war.
"The way I look at it, I was given my orders. I carried them out, and I came home."
Just following orders.

When I was growing up, that phrase meant one thing, and one thing only. It meant Nazi. Nazi Germany owned that phrase. Now it belongs to us.

It's called the Nuremberg Defense, and it is a rationalization intended to absolve you of your guilt should you ever be called upon to explain your participation in the slaughter of innocent civilians and children. That slaughter is now regarded as simply unfortunate. Casualties of war. Collateral damage.

Just following orders. Weren't the terrorists who hijacked the jetliners and flew them into the World Trade Center just following orders? I guess that makes it okay, in some peoples' eyes. They had to do it. They had their orders. Just like this poor kid who's going back to Iraq soon to take up arms against a country and he doesn't even know why.

Well, warmongers, I've got your "just following orders" right here.

And don't even get me started about !@#%$&* depleted uranium.

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