Published on Monday, February 14, 2005 by the Portland Press Herald (Portland, Maine)
How Dare Some Say, 'Support our Troops'?
by Dexter J. Kamilewicz
Someone recently informed me that they didn't know that my son was being deployed to Iraq and asked why I hadn't told them. I really didn't have an answer.
That is when I began to be annoyed by those ever-present, good-intentioned but mindless ribbons stuck on the back of cars and SUVs exhorting, "Support Our Troops."
I find those magnetic messages to be offensive when I think of parents and friends of National Guard soldiers who purchased expensive Kevlar armor for their soldiers while Donald Rumsfeld said they didn't have any in stock.
Those marketing messages seem so empty when soldiers are told to "up-armor" their Humvees because the Department of Defense had not asked the manufacturers if more could be done.
I am saddened when veterans wait over a year for appointments at veterans' hospitals and soldiers in Iraq, Afghanistan and places like Walter Reed Hospital are required to pay for phone calls and emails home. I bet Rumsfeld doesn't have to pay for calls and e-mails back home, and I find it unbelievable and unacceptable that Rumsfeld has not been fired while the troops have been treated so poorly. Support our troops?
I accept that there are justifications for going to war. However, I cannot find anyone who can give me a solid reason to justify our going to and continuing the war in Iraq.
There seems to be no question in America more avoided, particularly by elected officials, than a discussion of the war in Iraq. I asked Maine's members of Congress those questions.
U.S. Rep. Tom Allen said the war was not justified, but to abandon Iraq and its people now would be a mistake. Sen. Susan Collins said that going to war in Iraq was a problem of faulty intelligence, but the chaos in Iraq required us to stay.
Sen. Olympia Snowe blamed Saddam Hussein as the revised apparent rationale for invading Iraq, and she focused on the need for global support for the U.S efforts in Iraq. U.S. Rep. Michael Michaud agreed with Snowe.
Those answers translate that we got there by mistake, and we are staying there by mistake. There is no plan, there is no discussion and there is no leadership. Didn't we go into Iraq to protect ourselves from weapons of mass destruction and because of Iraq's connections with the terrorists, reasons that have been found to be utterly in error? Support our troops?
The pointless death and maiming of this war is pure insanity and probably even criminal. In this war, many times those who died in the World Trade Center have been wounded or killed. Over 1,400 American soldiers are dead, over 10,000 soldiers are physically wounded while uncounted others are psychologically wounded, and, by some estimates, over 100,000 Iraqis have been killed and maimed.
How can the killing be justified? Are we going to destroy a nation and kill its people to save it? We tried that once before. Support our troops?
I am afraid for my son. I certainly worry about his being killed, but I am also worried about his being placed in the position of killing, too. Most of all, I am angry that we are sending our soldiers to a war that nobody can justify.
Most Americans, especially members of Congress, do not have to worry about a loved one in the middle of this war, and they duck the tough questions.
Why do we permit a defacto back-door draft of the National Guard and recycle them, too? We were lied to once before, and we must avoid being lied to again. Will President Bush be this generation's Robert McNamara? I hope not. Will the Congress have the courage to ask the relevant questions? I hope so. Support our troops?
Please Don't Ask
Now you know why I didn't go out of my way to tell people that my son is being deployed to Iraq, and please don't ask about him if you really don't want to know.
Instead, please know that you will be in my shoes or his shoes unless you ask questions and demand answers of those in power. In the meantime, please excuse me if I have a painful lump in my throat or tears brimming in my eyes and that I am so angry with this damned war and the people who declared it.
Support our troops. Ask tough questions. Bring them home now.
Dexter J. Kamilewicz is a resident of Orr's Island, Maine.(firstname.lastname@example.org)
© 2005 Blethen Maine Newspapers Inc.