Tuesday, February 14, 2006

The Men Who Fight

I haven't dealt with the Iraq War much in this blog, mainly because what I have to say about it falls afield of what I focus on here. In fact, I think I wrote about the war just one time, when reviewing The Gift of Valor, a book about the literally sacrificial death of Marine Corporal Jason Dunham. Dunham threw himself on an Iraqi insurgent's grenade to spare the lives of his comrades, and in my review I had this to say:
Then there are the Christlike leaders like Corporal Dunham. Christlike not because they are believers; it isn't clear to me that Cpl. Dunham was a believer. But without a doubt he led as Jesus would lead: from behind his men with regard to status and in front of them with regard to danger. Jason Dunham was a sacrificial leader, as all Christians are called to be. Putting the needs of others first, as Jason did with his Marines. And finally paying the ultimate sacrifice, valuing the lives of his comrades above his own as he shielded them from a grenade with his own body.
Then I read recently about Marine Staff Sargeant Dan Clay, who was killed in Iraq. He left behind a letter for his family to be read in the event of his death. Some exerpts:
But here is something tangible. What we have done in Iraq is worth any sacrifice. Why? Because it was our duty. That sounds simple. But all of us have a duty. Duty is defined as a God given task. Without duty life is worthless. It holds no type of fulfillment. The simple fact that our bodies are built for work has to lead us to the conclusion that God (who made us) put us together to do His work.
...Be thankful that God in His wisdom gives us work. Mine was to ensure that you did not have to experience what it takes to protect what we have as a family. This I am so thankful for. I know what honor is. It is not a word to be thrown around. It has been an Honor to protect and serve all of you. I faced death with the secure knowledge that you would not have to. This is as close to Christ-like I can be. That emulation is where all honor lies. I thank you for making it worthwhile.
I will not express any opinions here about the virtues or failings of this war. What I think about the war is not nearly as meaningful to me as what I think about these men. With each passing year, this war and its effects will fade into memory, but there is an eternal significance to the purposeful sacrifice of men like Dunham and Clay. I will say that I despise the ignorance of those who refuse to know American servicemen as anything other than mindless killers or kids on a full metal jacket vacation. I've seen all the Hollywood stereotypes, and they are all bullshit. Total bullshit. I have an "adopted" son in law who's a Marine sargeant who just started his third tour in Iraq. I have met his commanders and his colleagues. To a man, they are all dedicated professionals, and there is nothing cynical or rah-rah about their dedication to their duty. Most deeply believe in what they are doing over there. Some, like Dunham and Clay, prove with their deaths what they are made of.

I look forward to the day when there will be no more Dunhams and Clays in Iraq, and when we will no longer have to sit in anxiety when news of another loss in Iraq hits the air. I hope that this will mean that peace has been acheived.


At 10:11 AM, Blogger Florence said...

I can't believe you never got one comment on this post. I came across it today when I was doing a search for "itching ears of 2 Tim 4:3" and your blog came up. I am guessing no one has commented because you used the bs word to call out the ignorant and prideful souls of our generation. Nobody knows what to say to that... chuckling. Well I have 2 cents... and I'm saying it boldly as I ought...

Thank you for the post. Thank you for men of valor. Thank you for honoring this particular brother who laid down his life for others. There is no greater LOVE and I am so deeply grateful for souls like these. Forever grateful.


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