ZERO PLUS 1197 DAYS,--New York, NY, Wednesday,
December 22, 2004--The
bells of Christmas peal, and from their tintinnabulation spills
the blood of warriors fighting for the freedom of others.
in combat is a reminder of how fragile freedom is
Christmas in combat. It isn't a warm, exuding experience that
promises peace and joy upon the world. Instead, it is a reminder
of how fragile freedom is.
We often take freedom
for granted. Especially when we are far from the sounds of mortars
spewing into mess tents or a suicide bomber detonating and splattering
body parts in 360 degrees.
It is easy for us who
sit six thousand miles away from Iraq or any combat zone in
any far distant land, and castigate the horrors of war, perhaps
even protest against the "waste" of human life for
what some might find nebulous reasons.
But then those of us
who have been in combat on Christmas, and who have chosen to
be there rather than forced to fight through conscription, realize
that the right to believe in a certain way and to have a forum
to stand up for that belief that does not create draconian reprisals
such as exist in a tyrannical government that forces upon people
specific belief systems, is worth fighting for.
It is hard for many
to believe that American troops fighting in Iraq are enjoying
one of the greatest possible Christmas gifts imaginable--the
knowledge they are risking their lives so a child might one
day be free of tyranny and oppression.
Christmas is for children.
It is their time to materialize the magic of belief, represented
by a gift under a sparkling tree. While many cultures do not
recognize Christmas because of its Christian roots, they have
a day in which the magic of belief comes to life for the children.
There are such holidays
in every culture, where a child's eyes bulge as the gift or
gifts shimmer in the light, begging to be opened.
parents witness their children's glowing eyes on Christmas,
they can't help but wish for them the greatest of all
It is this moment when
parents smile deeply, wishing upon their child the greatest
of all gifts--the freedom to be who they are, who they can become.
This gift cannot be
achieved when someone dictates to a child what that child will
believe, or how that child will act or not act, or what that
child will learn and not learn.
Freedom is the biggest
of all gifts, the grandest of all, and, the most dangerous of
all. It involves a sense of duty and responsibility to insure
it will available to the next child, and the next. It is a gift
that one cannot keep, for those who hoard freedom are Terrorists,
denying the rights of freedom to the next generation.
Freedom can only prosper
when it is given to one, and then passed on to another. It is
in the giving of freedom to another that the gift of its true
essence is felt. The paradox of freedom is that only by giving
it away can it be kept.
hear the Christmas bells...
In Iraq, Americans are
dying daily to give the gift of freedom to others. They received
that gift and opened it, enjoyed the fruits of its magnificent
tree, and now, they have wrapped it up and are offering it to
the Iraqi people--specifically, to the children.
may be hard to see the value of our presence in Iraq
When we hear the bells
of Christmas ringing, and our eyes scan the headlines of American
deaths, or, we hear the news of even more tragic causalities
mounting in a land that does not even believe in Christmas,
for some, it may be hard to see the value of our presence in
ringing bells and the shedding of blood is for --freedom
But if one realizes
that we are there to offer the great "gift" of freedom,
and, for many of Americans that is represented by Christmas,
then perhaps the reason we are in Iraq and fighting for the
rights of others may rise above the rants and raves of those
who call our presence there a "waste" or denigrate
the purpose of giving American lives so that others may taste
I know when I open my
Christmas presents this year I will see the faces of our troops
in Iraq smiling as they hand to the children of that nation
a glistening package of freedom.
So if the bells ring
and the blood of Americans pour, it is not for naught. It is
for the greatest gift of all--freedom.
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