Millions of Americans have fought in wars around the world, and
countless numbers of them have shed their blood. These
"Children of Vigilance" are the few willing to die for others.
There are those who refuse to salute them on this day.
I salute them, and ask you to read this story and find out why many
"tears of blood" fall from their eyes when people turn their back on
11, 2003—Ground Zero Plus 790
Why Young Men and Women Volunteer To
Die For Freedom
Editor, New York City Combat Correspondent News
GROUND ZER0, New York, N.Y.--Nov. 11, 2003--
America is one of the unique nations in the world when it comes to
sacrificing its young for the lofty ideals of freedom.
Over the past two centuries, hundreds of
thousands of America's finest youth have taken arms to battle, willing
to die for the preservation of freedom in the face of tyranny and
legacy of sacrifice began in the American Revolution
The legacy began in the American Revolution, ran
through the Civil War, extended itself through World War I and II,
through Korea and Vietnam, and now continues in the deserts and
villages of Iraq.
At this moment, nearly 200,000 Americans patrol
the country of Iraq and Afghanistan, daily offering their lives so
that the youth of those countries might have the same opportunity
their great great great great grandparents provided for them--the
right to chose and be free to evolve within their own worlds rather
than be dictated by a government that looks upon them as nails and
considers itself the hammer.
History reminds us that most nations who send
their young to fight battles do so with idea in mind that they will
conquer those nations, shovel them into the aggressor's fold and
assimilate the children of the conquered lands.
builders go back to the Roman conquests
These "empire" builders go back to the Roman
conquests, but are not limited by them. Since the
dawn of time marauding bands of warriors from one village swept
through others, usually killing the men and capturing the women and
children, expanding their land and wealth by "taking" from one group
to strengthen their own.
In recent history the Nazi occupation of Europe
serves as modern history's example of how ravenous the Beast of
Terror's appetite is to consume all its neighbors and rule them.
Another was the Soviet Empire.
Today the mad
dogs of Terrorism continue to attack
Today, the mad dogs of Terrorism still
attack their leashes, lunging rabidly toward the weak, snarling and
gnashing fangs to spark Fear, Intimidation and instill Complacency in
those they seek to cower before them, to prostate themselves at the
altar of the Beast.
Americans have been noted to rush to the rescue
of the weak and oppressed, to stave off the Beast of Terror, and then
walk away from the land without hoisting its flag, without turning the
freed nation into a "slave" or raping the wealth of the nation as
Instead, America is most noted for leaving the
blood of its young to soak in the soil of the nations it fights to
free, or to remain free, from the shadow of Terrorism.
In Vietnam I wrote a story about a fierce battle
with the North Vietnamese. The most powerful part of my
story was not just about the battle itself, but related to a patrol we
conducted weeks following the major conflict.
We returned to the battle scene to sweep through
the area, to insure the North Vietnamese did not re-infiltrate the
area. As we were sloughing through the rice paddies where
countless of our fellow Marines were killed and wounded, I spotted a
leaf near a paddy dyke mound. It was bright green in
parts, but a rusty color in others. I knelt down and
studied it. The rust was the residue of a Marine's blood,
caked on the surface of the leaf.
about the American blood let out all through Vietnam, Korea,
Europe... and now the Middle East
It had become part of the landscape, part of
the fertilization of the soil. I thought about the
American blood let out all through Vietnam, through Korea, Europe.
I thought about the "seeds of Freedom" planted in the soil of many
lands, issued from the bodies of young men and women who bore arms and
offered their lives so that others might taste the fruits of freedom,
might enjoy the privileges of democracy rather than the enslavement of
tyranny and oppression.
Today, many critics rattle their
sabers and point the sharp tips of their tongues at cutting the legs
from under our military in Iraq. They want our young
people to come home, to not be put at risk of death in some foreign
land and become a name, a statistic of war.
Little do they realize that the men
and women, whom some would call boys and girls, of the American
military have chosen the right to die for others.
Few volunteer to die. Only those who do so understand
totally the honor of standing for the right of others to live in
In my own case, I was a witness to perhaps
the greatest reason a young man would give his life in combat to
people in a far-off land. In a small village called Mo Duc, our
unit was one of many assigned to protect the villagers from threat of
death if they voted in the first democratic election held in Vietnam.
I worried the
villagers would become victims of the Beast of Terror's threat
We surrounded the village to keep the North
Vietnamese from tyrannizing the potential voters.
Many of our fellow Marines died or were wounded as we established our
blocking forces. Then, on election day, I wondered if
anyone would come out to vote from the jungles. I worried they
would become victims of the Beast of Terror's threat, and that Fear
would overpower Courage, that Intimidation would dwarf Conviction, and
the Complacency would swallow the Right Actions the villagers could
take to vote for the freedom of the Children's Children's Children.
I waited as the sun rose over Highway One,
the main road leading into the village. It was the passageway
the villagers must take to cast their vote. Then they
came. Small black dots slipping out of the verdant vegetation
abutting Highway One. They came in small numbers at first,
then the numbers grew. Their black pajamas, the uniform of
Vietnamese farmers, swelled until the road was full of them.
They defied the Beast of Terror to cast their vote.
I knew then the blood of all the dead and
wounded was justified. Americans were teaching a people
they had the right to freedom. Even though we "lost" the
war in Vietnam, we won that day. The votes cast at Mo Duc
and other locations in Vietnam embossed the value of all the American
blood spilled in defense of ideals that critics who lambaste our
presence in Iraq will never fathom.
Veteran's Day, I salute the Sentinels of Vigilance who have given
their lives, spilled their blood to thwart the Beast of Terror
On this Veterans Day, I want to salute the
Sentinels of Vigilance who have given their lives and spilled their
blood in foreign lands--including those who offered their lives and
This includes the nearly 3,000 people who
died at the World Trade Center, for their deaths are included in the
tribute. Like those who traveled to foreign soils, the
people who died on Nine Eleven were just as courageous in their own
right. They gave their lives so that others might be
reminded that the Beast of Terror doesn't just stalk foreign lands.
is a time to remember those who are symbols of Vigilance over
The Beast can roost on our doorstep, haunt our
children, threaten our security with as much ease as he does the
people in the far reaches of the world.
Veterans Day is a time for us to remember that
America's veterans are symbols to the world that Vigilance over
Terrorism is a worthy cause. And all the blood they have spilled
are tears shed in sorrow to those who refuse to salute them.