All-volunteer military proud to serve country

Published 5:00 am Friday, May 26, 2006

I watched the HBO documentary “Baghdad ER,” not only to seewhether it lived down to the expectations of some conservatives whoclaimed, without seeing it, that the film would be an anti-warpropaganda screed; I also wanted to be reminded of the cost offreedom.

The program was “MASH” without as much humor, though there washumor amidst the blood, pain, death and grief. The documentaryshows the reality of war. Viewers can read into it whatever theywish, but I found it authentic and compelling. What continues toamaze is how many of the wounded men and women did not want toleave Iraq, preferring to rejoin their units as soon aspossible.

Chaplains prayed with the wounded and for the dead. If the ACLUobjects, someone should tell them to shut up.

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We are told that most people don’t have any relatives in today’sall-volunteer military, or know anyone who does. That is too bad,because such people are missing out on the privilege of knowing agroup of young men and women whose commitment to duty, honor andcountry is refreshing in a self-centered universe.

Memorial Day honors those who took up arms in the defense offreedom and the common values shared by free people. These men andwomen lost their lives so that we (and others) could maintain ourfreedom. Unless you know them, it is difficult to understand theirreasons for leaving behind comfort and loved ones to give theirlives so that others might live in freedom.

Eighteen months ago, I wrote about a remarkable young man who Ihave known since his birth. Specialist Daniel Calvin Dobson ofGrand Rapids, Mich., joined the National Guard with the intentionof going to Iraq. He served and he came home. Next week, he leavesfor a second tour. He tells me the Army has a policy that anyonewho has already served in Iraq is not required to go back shouldhis unit be recalled. Daniel volunteered to go back.

In e-mail to his friends, he asks three things: “First, do notlose hope in the face of negative reporting. We are doing good workin Iraq and God is with us. Second, pray for those of us who havechosen to serve our nation and the liberties espoused by ourConstitution. Third, I ask that you never take advantage of theliberties guaranteed by the shedding of free blood, never take forgranted the freedoms granted by our Constitution. For thoseliberties would be merely ink on paper were it not for thesacrifice of generations of Americans who heard the call of dutyand responded heart, mind and soul with ‘Yes, I will.'”

In a new book, “Home of the Brave: Honoring the Unsung Heroes inthe War on Terror,” the late Secretary of Defense Caspar Weinbergerand presidential speechwriter and scholar Wynton C. Hall write ofsuch men: “Every morning, in cities all across the world, 2.4million Americans wake up, put on a uniform, kiss their loved onesgoodbye, and head out the door to defend freedom. In exchange, theyask for nothing: not wealth, not power, not celebrity. . To them,protecting America is a privilege, an honor, a solemn duty that hasbeen passed like a torch from their parents and grandparents beforethem.

“As First Sergeant Justin LeHew told us, ‘It’s all the crossesin Arlington Cemetery. It’s all those GIs who died over there withmy dad on Omaha Beach. You want your generation to do Americajustice like that one did. ‘And they did.”

They did, indeed. And they still are doing America justice anddoing America proud.

Find a veteran this Memorial Day weekend and say, “thank you formy freedom.” Visit a military cemetery and thank God someone waswilling to die so you and I might live in freedom. And supportthose, like my friend Daniel Dobson, who for the second time isabout to make an installment payment toward the price free peoplemust pay in order that we might continue to enjoy liberty.

Write to Cal Thomas at 435 N. Michigan Ave., Suite 1500,Chicago IL 60611. E-mail reaches him at