One of the most distasteful and dishonest tactics employed by far-right conservatives in the years since the start of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan has been to brand liberals, progressives, Democrats and anyone else opposed to the conflicts as unpatriotic and even anti-American. And for the most part, those same liberals, progressives and Democrats have been unable to counter this deceitful claim.
As for me, I am completely opposed to the wars on philosophical grounds. I don’t believe in state-sponsored violence of any type, regardless of whose flag is flying over the battlefield. At the same time, I know that the men and women who are fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan are doing so in my name, and in both theaters, these brave soldiers are coming face-to-face with some of the purest forms of evil — terrorists who kill indiscriminately in God’s name. Simply put, I have to support them in every way possible.
I would challenge everyone who supports the troops but opposes the wars with a basic question: what exactly have you done to actually support them, besides lending them your words? I’ve done nothing at all, other than write about a few stories I’ve seen during the last five years.
But something I saw this morning made me realize we all need to do much more. NBC’s Richard Engel, reporting from Korengal, Afghanistan, on Oct. 16, followed the U.S. Army’s Viper Company into battle against the Taliban in a location ominously dubbed the “Valley of Death.” In the firefight, a 25-year-old soldier, Sgt. John M. Penich of Beach Park, Ill., died, while six others were injured.
Take five minutes and watch Richard’s story, Tragedy for GIs in the Afghan Hills. Think about what the men of Viper Company are going through on a daily basis. And do something to let them know you support them. Send them a care package. Write them a letter. Remember them in your prayers and dedications.
But do something so that that these men know they are not making this sacrifice in vain, and let it be the first of many things you do to put your proverbial money where your mouth is.
Viper Company: The Army servicemen featured in Richard Engel’s reporting from their outpost in Afghanistan would welcome winter hats, gloves and socks, comedy DVDs, videogames, cigars and Christmas treats. Send them to:
C/O CPT Jimmy Howell
BCo., 1-26 IN, 3-1 IBCT
APO AE 09354