Letter from the Editor

Tuesday, April 22, 2003

Military shows true colors

One can't envy the president.

Long after the fighting in Iraq is over, much will be on the man's head - the young military lives spent, the sacrifices of the families, the international relations implications, the economic price just beginning to be paid.

Long after patriotic fervor gives was to the clarity of introspection, some will still be debating whether we as a nation have done the right things. It may be years before we can fully appreciate the impact of Bush's action on the world order.

Will Saddam be brought to justice, or will others like him take his place? Will a new government hold, and will it be any more fruitful for its people? Will the U.S. be forced to support Iraq, and for how long? Will the war end the clandestine production of weapons of mass destruction and the planning of terrorist acts, or cause more of them? What about fuel supplies and prices? Foreign markets and national image?

Only time will tell.

One thing we don't have to wait for, however, is a newfound respect for our military. In past years, there has been a lot of criticism of the armed services, and many "experts" have said that the country couldn't muster a show of force any longer if needed.

Whether one thinks this action right to wrong, they surely must be impressed by the men and women who are fighting.

You don't see George W. Bush there, or the other politicians who was philosophic at such length.

You see Pfc. Jessica Lynch, cut off and surrounded in enemy territory, fighting until her last round of ammo was spent, never giving up on her duty. How many times have we been told that women didn't have what it takes for combat soldiering?

You see ground troops march 350 miles across rock and desert in harsh conditions, against a fanatical enemy on unfamiliar turf. How many times have we been told that our peacetime military system didn't have what it takes for readiness?

You see airmen sustain over 33,000 sorties in three weeks' time, an amazing effort in cargo delivery, refueling, intelligence and accuracy. How many times have we been told that such labor is impossible with a voluntary military force?

And at the same time as they have done their lethal work, our military people have been just as likely to share their water with the thirsty people they encounter in Iraq, hand out their own rations to those who are hungrier, reach out to a frightened child. We have seen those who have been wounded show no bitterness toward their country and no complaints for their sacrifices.

What each of us think of the politics of this war is a personal and private matter.

But what the world is seeing, reading and witnessing is that the United States - still - has the most incredible fighting force on the planet. The pride that they are showing, whether fighting in Baghdad or fulfilling their roles in stateside security, is worthy of all of our gratitude. The young men and women of this effort are efficient at their harsh task, but they also have hearts, and for this, the world should thank them.

As we plan a big upcoming Support The Troops rally to be held in Alta, I think maybe this is what we are trying to say.

It's not a statement about politics or the rights and wrongs of war. It isn't about glory or brutality.

It's about wanting to say, simply, "Thank you."