A Salute to Our Troops, by Jerry Brooks


A New Visions Commentary paper published March 2003 by The National Center for Public Policy Research, 501 Capitol Ct., N.E., Washington, DC 20002, 202/543-4110, Fax 202-543-5975, E-Mail [email protected], Web http://www.nationalcenter.org. Reprints permitted provided source is credited.

I’ve made a new friend on the Internet over the past few months.

He’s an officer in a U.S. Army infantry unit. As I write this, he is stationed in Kuwait – right in the heart of the storm. I don’t wish to name this fine American hero for two reasons. One, I don’t want to embarrass my new friend. Furthermore, he isn’t a glory hound seeking recognition.

My buddy will be the first to tell you he’s just a soldier doing what he’s supposed to do: defend America and all that she stands for. This is the type of person my new friend is, a man of humility and outstanding character. It makes me wish I were a few years younger, so I could still join the military myself.

In a recent e-mail, my friend gave me a brief insight into the life of our troops who are currently stationed over in the Persian Gulf:

“Things over here are okay. It could be worse. On those cold desert nights, and during intense sand storms, I try to think about those who fought before me; in Korea, Germany, and other places, who have gone through far worse conditions. Who am I to complain about cold showers and a dirty uniform?”

After the diplomatic song and dance at the U.N., the anti-Bush protests at home and overseas and the struggle against complacency waged by our forces as they anxiously wait for orders; this proud soldier simply focuses his perspective on those honorable warriors who went before him. No griping. No complaining. In a few simple phrases, he paid an eloquent tribute to the greatest generation and all they did for freedom.

He later sums up why he and many others like him have chosen to serve their country in the armed forces:

“I tell you, my friend. To be a part of an infantry division building combat power for possible hostilities makes me so proud to be an American. There are no cocky attitudes, no brashness, no warmongering or arrogance that you read about in the papers. Just Americans with their ‘game faces’ on. Doing what they believe is right. What they believe will have in impact on preventing future September 11 incidents.”

This sort of straightforwardness is one of the numerous reasons why I have tremendous respect and admiration for the men and women who serve in our nation’s military. These aren’t the bloodthirsty warmongers, as some people would attempt to portray them. These are brave men and women fighting for future generations of their own families and everyone else’s. It’s about integrity, liberty and honor. It’s about defending America from enemies both foreign and domestic. And my friend is a great example of the fine work these intrepid people do every day.

These are people who are putting their lives on the line and who are sacrificing much to do it. They’ve left wives, husbands, children, friends and family to go and defend something that’s larger than them. Freedom!

So if you happen to meet anyone who serves in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines or the Coast Guard, take a moment to shake their hand, give them a hug and show your support by saying thanks for what they do. As for my friend, I intend to buy the man a cold one when we finally get to meet face to face. These good and courageous people have certainly earned our support and we, as a nation, would be remiss in our civic duty if we give them nothing less than our best.

To all of our armed forces in the Middle East and around the globe, God bless you all! Be safe, be careful and be home soon.

(Jerry Brooks is a member of the National Advisory Council of the African-American leadership network Project 21 and a former television/radio/print political commentator in Portland, Oregon. He can be reached at [email protected].)

Note: New Visions Commentaries reflect the views of their author, and not necessarily those of Project 21.

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