Sat, 28 Feb 2009 06:00:10 +0000 – By Andy RyanBrainroom Researcher, FOX News Channel/Army Reservist
My favorite kind of unanswerable questions are:
"Should we bring the troops home from Iraq now?"
"Should we have gone to war with Iraq?"
These questions are not necessarily unanswerable for eternity but for the moment, I choose to let conservative and liberal media pundits (most of whom have never worn a uniform) debate those answers. As a U.S. service member, I am more concerned with these questions:
Did we do our job?
Can my brethren hold their heads high when they come home?
Did my brothers and sisters in arms die in vain?
My job as a service member is not to argue policy -- it is to be well trained and accomplish the mission. Don't mistake me for some automated robot that blindly does what he or she is told to do. Actually, quite the contrary, I am trained to handle many different situations in adverse environments. My training teaches me to work well with others, respect my superiors and care for my subordinates. So pardon me if I am in uniform and choose to step out of the room when policy questions are being argued.
Whether you believe in policies of any administration, past, present or in the future, do the right thing and honor our departed brethren for the beliefs they held -- in doing so, you will not let them die in vain.
In the simplest of terms, my job in Iraq was to help create an environment where Iraqis could live with freedom and security. While I was in Iraq, the troops I worked with did a fantastic job ensuring that this dream could become a reality. There is no doubt their work contributed to a decrease in violence, a decline in both civilian and military casualties and to creating an environment where more Iraqis now have an opportunity to live more productive lives. However, the often immeasurable intangible is how they conducted themselves while doing their job.
I saw soldiers walk away from situations when others might have let their anger chart incomprehensible actions. I saw soldiers get spit on for the actions of insurgents but walk away with their dignity because it was the right thing to do. When the job called for brains instead of brawn, I saw soldiers equally involved. And I am not talking about senior leaders; I am talking about the 19 year old privates.
As with any job, some mistakes were made. Nevertheless, do not let the individual mistakes of a few dictate how we view the conduct of the majority of U.S. troops. I had no greater pride than seeing how young Americans conducted themselves while in Iraq. A lot of negative things have been said about this so-called young generation of self-absorbed Americans. The true test of a generation's character is measured by how they conducted themselves in times of adversity. If the performance in Iraq by a few from this generation is any indicator, they will shine brightly and, as Americans, we can have comfort knowing this next generation will carry on the principles we so cherish.
In any war, there some who lay down their lives and pay the ultimate sacrifice. The departed troops did not die because of a belief in a policy; they died because of a belief in their job and the principles of this country that are embodied in their job. So whether you believe in policies of any administration, past, present or in the future, do the right thing and honor our departed brethren for the beliefs they held; in doing so, you will not let them die in vain.
[caption id="attachment_7968" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="Courtesy Andy Ryan"][/caption]
I have always said that, years from now, when the last U.S. service member leaves Iraq, I hope to have the honor of meeting my commander in chief. As we shake hands, I hope to hear this: "Sergeant Ryan, the troops did a great job, your brethren can hold their heads high, and your brothers and sisters did not die in vain."
After listening to the President speak at Camp Lejeune on Friday I want to say, "Thank you for not making me wait to hear that."