Sunday, December 04, 2005
Here's a drawing I did yesterday of a young Marine sergeant. He's the personal driver for the Commanding Officer of Regimental Combat Team Two. Normally, back in the rear with the gear, this kind of assignment would be safe and cushy, but out here it's not. The Colonel in command of RCT-2 leads from the front, and frequently visits his units spread out across the meanest parts of western Iraq. This is the face of someone exposed everyday to every imaginable way of being killed.
Yesterday, while doing this drawing, I recieved an e-mail from the father of a young Marine lieutenant who was killed in the line of duty. He was gracious enough to include part of the last letter his beloved son wrote him 5 days before he fell in battle. I'm not going to give you the young man's name, yet I ask as you read these cherished words to remember that he is not some anonymous un-named source, he was flesh and bone, and once full of hopes and the kind of grit and determination most men only dream of having. There are politicians back home trumpeting a "cut and run" policy. I don't know what their sources are or what their politial motives might be, but they weren't this lieutenant's, nor mine.
"The Marines have worked very hard and have done a phenomenal
job, as have the Iraqi Security Forces attached to my Platoon.
We've seen evidence of the cowardice and ruthlessness of the
enemy and it only reinforces my belief that these insurgents
must be systematically killed or captured. The Iraqi people
deserve a life free from the influences of these
terrorists--and they are terrorists. People that commit the
kind of atrocities that these terrorists do deserve nothing
less than the most painful deaths imaginable.... If you walk
through these cities and see how poor and terrified the Iraqi
citizens are of terrorists, and how thankful they are that we
finally came to their cities, you could not possibly consider
doing this job incompletely.... Have faith in what the Marines
are trying to do here. I'm constantly surrounded by the finest
young men America's got. We'll be just fine...."
I don't mean to be morbid. This is Sunday, and I am thoughtful of the role death plays in reminding us to live, to truly live. Death, as Carlos Castaneda's character the Yaqui shaman Don Juan instructs us, is not an enemy but a friend always whispering at our left shoulder, "live". And grief, to paraphrase Elizabeth Kubler-Ross, "is a messenger that tells us that we have loved well". Kubler-Ross also reminds us that for those who have neither loved or lived well death always comes too soon. So go grab the one you love and go live this day. Amen