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Old 04-08-2004, 07:58 AM   #1
Felessan
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Join Date: Nov 2002
Location: San Antonio, TX
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Default Interesting Read...

I recieved this from a Maj. I served with, who is still in country. Not REALLY "Steam Vent" material, but I thought it poignant enough to share.


Miami Herald
April 8, 2004

We Must Act More Like A Nation At War
By Joseph L. Galloway

America is at war. It has been at war since Sept. 11, 2001, and may well remain at war for many years to come. It doesn't feel like we're at war, even though in the past year more than 600 Americans have been killed in Iraq. Perhaps, as the war in Iraq widens and the one in Afghanistan drags on, it would help us to become more like a nation at war, more like a people at war, if we thought about what it meant to fight and die in a war more than half a century ago.

No one chronicled American soldiers in World War II better than Ernie Pyle, the most famous war correspondent of that generation. His book Brave Men told the stories of those soldiers simply and with great heart.

One such story was titled Captain Waskow, about the death of Capt. Henry T. Waskow, 25, of Belton, Texas. He was the commanding officer of Company B, 143rd Infantry, 36th Division, killed in action on Dec. 14, 1943, in Italy on Mount Sammucro during operations to take San Pietro.

Waskow died much as young Americans have died in Iraq and Afghanistan in recent months. Pyle told how they brought the young captain's body down off the mountain in the night on the back of a mule and laid him on the ground beside a stone wall. Then his men came, one by one, to say goodbye.

`` . . . The first man squatted down, and he reached down and took the captain's hand and he sat there for a full five minutes holding the dead hand in his own and looking intently into the dead face. . . . Finally he put the hand down. He reached over and gently straightened the points of the captain's shirt collar and then he sort of rearranged the tattered edges of the uniform around the wound, and then he got up and walked away down the road in the moonlight, all alone.''

Like many soldiers, Waskow carried in his pocket a final letter to his family, his last testament, his final gift to America.

We can learn something about being at war from that letter. It's a bit flowery and sentimental. After all, this is a young man saying goodbye to those he loved, from beyond the grave:

``If you get to read this, I will have died in defense of my country and all that it stands for -- the most honorable and distinguished death a man can die. It was not because I was willing to die for my country . . . I wanted to live for it. . . .

``To live for one's country is to my mind to live a life of service. To, in a small way, help a fellow man occasionally along the way and generally to be useful and serve.

``It also means to me to rise up in all our wrath and with overwhelming power to crush any oppressor of human rights. That is our job, all of us, as I write this, and I pray God we are wholly successful.

``Yes, I would have liked to have lived -- to live and share the many blessings and good fortunes that my grandparents bestowed upon me. A fellow never had a better family than mine, but since God has willed otherwise do not grieve too much dear ones. . . . I was not afraid to die. . . . I prayed that I and others could do our share to keep you safe until we returned.

``I made my choice, dear ones. I volunteered in the armed forces because I felt it my duty to do so. I thought that I might be able and might do just a little bit to help this great country of ours in its hours of need -- the country that means more to me than life itself. If I have done that, then I can rest in peace, for I will have done my share to make this world a better place in which to live.

``Try to live a life of service.''

We're a nation at war, and every day we read about the deaths of young Americans like Henry T. Waskow. We're at war, but it hardly interrupts our lives. No one demands sacrifice of us.

In Henry Waskow's America, there were scrap-metal drives and war-bond drives and Victory Gardens and rationing of food and fuel. There was a draft that took 15 million American men into uniform and sent them into harm's way. Women took their places on the factory floors. Everyone had a part to play.

In the strange wars that we're fighting today, only one thing seems certain: Until everyone begins paying attention to the wars -- and to the threat that global terrorism poses -- and until all of us begin making some small contributions, we cannot hope for victory.

Joseph L. Galloway is the senior military correspondent for Knight Ridder Newspapers.

I salute my brothers still in combat...for those of us who've been there...no explanation necessary.

For the others...please read. Lets try and not make this into a rant. I just posted this as a simple read.
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Felessan Oakhallow
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"The things we do in life, echo in eternity!"
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