By Ernie McCray
After reading about an 18 year old marine reservist who paid the ultimate price in Iraq, I now more than ever want our young warriors brought home. I mean, excuse me, but 18 year olds dying trying to liberate people who hadn’t asked to be liberated sickens me.
Next to the text about this young man’s battalion and his hometown was a picture of his handsome smiling face, perhaps a high school graduation picture. At that point, visions of myself as an 18 year old flooded my mind. I could see myself in a cap and gown strutting across the stage with the class of ’56 at Tucson High, on my way to shooting jumpshots and snatching rebounds for the U of A. And, only a child myself, I had a child on the way.
And like the boy I mourn, I also was a marine reserve pfc and as it was with him, I’m sure, I was constantly being reminded that I might someday be asked to lay my life on the line. We both knew that was the name of the game. But whereas he perished because of the actions of a president who has no shame I was protected by a president who knew there was nothing to be gained by going to war. There was no way I would have been put in harm’s way back then in a war like the one that claimed this 18 year old’s life.
With Dwight D. Eisenhower in the White House such a fate just wasn’t a possibility. Hey, I never wore an “I Like Ike” button but I trusted and appreciated him enough to know that he just wouldn’t have lied to me and made me forfeit a college degree and recklessly send me off to combat in a land where I didn’t need to be. He came away from World War II claiming very loudly and very clearly that: “War settles nothing.” That attitude spoke volumes to me.
In his war Hitler fell. Mussolini fell. Japanese cities were reduced to dust. And if that devastating war settled nothing then what’s going to be settled in a war like the one we’re in that was started on a whim?
Oh, thank goodness, I’m not an 18 year old jarhead today, fighting a war in the mean streets of some place like Mosul or Baghdad, mired in an incredible mess created by my commander-in-chief’s willingness to BS his citizenry shamelessly.
I remember during the Cuban Missile Crisis wondering if I might be heading off to war but the powers-that-be in our country and the USSR eventually came to their senses and stopped double daring each other - to which there was a sigh of relief heard and felt throughout the world. But at least that situation was based on ”weapons of mass destruction” for real. A war between those two superpowers definitely wouldn’t have settled anything because the planet would have become kingdom come.
So I ask my fellow countryfolks wherever they might be: Just what is being settled in Iraq really? What are our kids dying for other than so Bush and his cronies both in and out of the White House can strut around the world with their chests out talking trash about ”making a people free?” Who have they liberated when we look at what’s going on honestly? Nobody.
They care about only themselves and how much of the world’s resources they can get their mitts on. But their grand plan to Shock and Awe and pump the oil out of the Middle East went south on them and their only hope is to keep our troops in harm’s way until a later day when things are more “settled.”
However, though, if there is any war that proves that “war settles nothing” it surely is this one in Iraq. But if we demanded that our kids be brought back home as loud as we can, non-stop, each and every day, we could settle something: the debt we owe them for the steep price too many of them have already paid with their lives.
Ernie McCray is a San Diego resident