No heroes in Iraq?

The absence of recognized and celebrated heroes whose names should have become household words by now in this war is palpable... and shameful.  No one knows what to do with them, I guess.  We send them there and then some poll decries their presence as a political liability for one party or the other and the politicians hunker down.  The Pentagon seems a bit reluctant to take up the cause as well.  Savvy careerists know that Iraq has become a hot potato. Those who will never seek the limelight for themselves, yet deserve every minute of thanks and adulation we as a nation can heap upon them, slip into the background and remain silent. Those who should mine and proclaim their heroism wear the same uniform as those in harm's way.

Who then celebrates the heroism of these young warriors?  Who even knows about them?   How many can we name from memory?  When was the last time we saw newspapers and television networks clamoring for print and air time to interview and tell the stories of young American service members who did great and selfless things for his or her buddies?  Why isn't the heroism of our service people sought out and reported on with the same intensity as  the misdeeds and alleged misdeeds of a few, not to mention the negative news that streams daily from the front lines through our media?  Why aren't they brought into school assemblies as strong, positive examples of true sacrifice on behalf of our country?

It seems that in the media we primarily see our troops in their role as casualties. Where are the heroes?

Would they be met with political resistance and the fear that our children would get the 'wrong idea' about our country and its commitment to freedom and liberty?  Is the idea that a man or woman could make a conscious decision to join a profession that might cost them their lives too intense a notion for our young people to hear?  Are we afraid to put teeth in the old refrain, 'Freedom isn't free'?

How many of us can name the organizations that have been founded by wounded veterans, many with prosthetic devices as a result of combat injuries, to assist other returning veterans who have suffered horribly in Iraq?  How many of us know about the handful of veterans who recently pedaled across our country to raise awareness and money to help their comrades?

Why are they are not feted on every talk show and every newspaper in our country as examples of positive role models?   When the weak and irresolute among us call for a total withdrawal from Iraq, as if that option were an option at all, why don't we ask them about how they would explain all this to these heroes who gave so much of themselves...for us?

I fear that we are losing an opportunity here.  I can watch a clip of our folks over there and, in a minute, tell you how well trained they are for the risks they are encountering.  I can watch the clips of Iraqis being trained and tell you real quick that these guys are maybe months, if not years away, from being able to hump their own gear unaided by our guys.  I can look in the eyes of our troops and tell you why they, after being wounded, volunteer to go back to Iraq to cover the backs of their buddies rather than go home to a soft, easy medical rehab program close to family and friends.  I can tell you that these young folks are the mettle upon whom we can count to stand against the escalating threat of global terrorists and religious nut balls.  Yet, many of us seem so reluctant to give them the credit they deserve.  We recognize them with obligatory words and magnetic slogans on our vehicles and then quickly exit stage left hoping that greater explanations and testimonies will not be asked of us.

I know what these brave warriors will do.  They will seek the company of one another.   They will hold unit reunions at which a few cold ones will be sipped and events known only to them will be recounted and tears will be shed and laughter will be heard. They will politely and quietly isolate themselves from those who showed no interest in them.  They will slip quietly back into the mainstream of our country's life when their tour is over.  They will tuck their medals into bureau drawers and get on with their lives.  Their heroism, even though it got short shrift from many of their countrymen, will strengthen them and they will be the neighbor that everyone wants living next door.  They will raise the next generation of children taught to appreciate their country and to 'put it on the line' without being asked.

They will have done their part.  All we need do now is ask the question and seek the answer to 'What? No heroes in Iraq?

Just why is that, anyway?

Semper Fidelis,

Dave St. John
Capt, USMCR
1964—'70
RVN Veteran

The absence of recognized and celebrated heroes whose names should have become household words by now in this war is palpable... and shameful.  No one knows what to do with them, I guess.  We send them there and then some poll decries their presence as a political liability for one party or the other and the politicians hunker down.  The Pentagon seems a bit reluctant to take up the cause as well.  Savvy careerists know that Iraq has become a hot potato. Those who will never seek the limelight for themselves, yet deserve every minute of thanks and adulation we as a nation can heap upon them, slip into the background and remain silent. Those who should mine and proclaim their heroism wear the same uniform as those in harm's way.

Who then celebrates the heroism of these young warriors?  Who even knows about them?   How many can we name from memory?  When was the last time we saw newspapers and television networks clamoring for print and air time to interview and tell the stories of young American service members who did great and selfless things for his or her buddies?  Why isn't the heroism of our service people sought out and reported on with the same intensity as  the misdeeds and alleged misdeeds of a few, not to mention the negative news that streams daily from the front lines through our media?  Why aren't they brought into school assemblies as strong, positive examples of true sacrifice on behalf of our country?

It seems that in the media we primarily see our troops in their role as casualties. Where are the heroes?

Would they be met with political resistance and the fear that our children would get the 'wrong idea' about our country and its commitment to freedom and liberty?  Is the idea that a man or woman could make a conscious decision to join a profession that might cost them their lives too intense a notion for our young people to hear?  Are we afraid to put teeth in the old refrain, 'Freedom isn't free'?

How many of us can name the organizations that have been founded by wounded veterans, many with prosthetic devices as a result of combat injuries, to assist other returning veterans who have suffered horribly in Iraq?  How many of us know about the handful of veterans who recently pedaled across our country to raise awareness and money to help their comrades?

Why are they are not feted on every talk show and every newspaper in our country as examples of positive role models?   When the weak and irresolute among us call for a total withdrawal from Iraq, as if that option were an option at all, why don't we ask them about how they would explain all this to these heroes who gave so much of themselves...for us?

I fear that we are losing an opportunity here.  I can watch a clip of our folks over there and, in a minute, tell you how well trained they are for the risks they are encountering.  I can watch the clips of Iraqis being trained and tell you real quick that these guys are maybe months, if not years away, from being able to hump their own gear unaided by our guys.  I can look in the eyes of our troops and tell you why they, after being wounded, volunteer to go back to Iraq to cover the backs of their buddies rather than go home to a soft, easy medical rehab program close to family and friends.  I can tell you that these young folks are the mettle upon whom we can count to stand against the escalating threat of global terrorists and religious nut balls.  Yet, many of us seem so reluctant to give them the credit they deserve.  We recognize them with obligatory words and magnetic slogans on our vehicles and then quickly exit stage left hoping that greater explanations and testimonies will not be asked of us.

I know what these brave warriors will do.  They will seek the company of one another.   They will hold unit reunions at which a few cold ones will be sipped and events known only to them will be recounted and tears will be shed and laughter will be heard. They will politely and quietly isolate themselves from those who showed no interest in them.  They will slip quietly back into the mainstream of our country's life when their tour is over.  They will tuck their medals into bureau drawers and get on with their lives.  Their heroism, even though it got short shrift from many of their countrymen, will strengthen them and they will be the neighbor that everyone wants living next door.  They will raise the next generation of children taught to appreciate their country and to 'put it on the line' without being asked.

They will have done their part.  All we need do now is ask the question and seek the answer to 'What? No heroes in Iraq?

Just why is that, anyway?

Semper Fidelis,

Dave St. John
Capt, USMCR
1964—'70
RVN Veteran