Sunday, July 1, 2007

Some heartfelt thoughts from Larry ...

One Soldier's thoughts from time spent with Lima Company, 3rd BN, 7th Marines at Joint Security Station Sabataj in the Sabataj neighborhood of downtown Ramadi. It breaks my heart to be at the tip of the spear with these brave young (18-25yrs) Marines and Soldiers and to see the amazing things they accomplish daily to improve the everyday life of the Iraqi people they come into contact with.

These young Americans are literally rebuilding the lives of these Iraqi people one city block at a time with care and compassion. These 200 Marines and Soldiers live in the neighborhood and in the same building with the Iraqi Police (IPs) and the Iraqi Army (IAs) without running water, showers, toilets, and without electricity for much of the time. Their food is convoyed in twice a day from another forward operating base nearby and you get to eat when you can. In addition, they provide all their own stand-alone security. Despite all of this hardship, they personally assist the local population to help themselves by producing and managing projects to improve the quality of life for this neighborhood.

In November of 2006, this was the one of, if not the, most dangerous cities in the world. Yet today the American military, and these young Americans, are supervising and helping the local people to clean-up the rubble, clean the streets, clear away garbage, clear out the sewer, bring in fresh water and rebuild the electric grid. Then the balance of the day is spent making sure local vendors do not overcharge locals for US-provided foodstuffs as well as locally produced gas, cooking fuel, heavy heating oil, building materials, and electricity.

They work job projects, visit the schools, play with the kids, shop in the Souk (local outside market), arrange sporting events, create and encourage civic organizations and 100’s of other life enriching tasks. Then they get up the next day with little sleep and do it all again.

However, like I said, it breaks my heart because the people in the US either do not know what these American service men and women are accomplishing, they don’t care what is going on, or they disregard it because it does not support their political agenda. It is sad because the very planks that built the American Democratic Party platform and those on which most liberals stand are fine as long as it happens on US soil, but liberals want no part of it in Iraq.

Why Not? Why not indeed, it is the standard by which liberals measure your “quality of life”, yet to embrace that same position for Iraq may cost them a presidential election. So many lives are affected and the future of so many depends upon political agenda. It almost seems un-American. At least be honest about it. Stop saying we need to get out of Iraq to save American lives. Ask those whose lives are on the line at Lima Company and see what they say.

One only needs to view Lima Company’s deeds to see the truth. I defy any American to spend a week with these young Americans, then stand up and say it is all for nothing. If it is for naught, then America also stands for nothing. These Americans of Lima Company can look into their hearts and know they have made a difference.

Sergeant Major Larry Johnson, US Army, Anbar

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