War is an Ugly Thing, But not the Ugliest of Things!
Last week, on a flight from Dallas to Louisville, I sat next to a young Specialist 4, infantry soldier from the 10th Mountain Division, named Greg Pittenger, who has served in Afghanistan and was on his mid tour break (for 18 days), while serving in Iraq. To say that I was impressed with him and his command of the situation over there is woefully understated. His eyes had the pain and the sorrow of one many years older than his 22 years. Below is a "thank you" that I wrote to him on behalf of our family ... and our nation, as well, since too few really know what the hell is going on there. Don't believe the media, because they do not speak the truth -- those who serve -- they speak the truth!
The letter speaks for itself. God Bless our troops and what they do for us and our nation ... lest they be forgotten or dismissed in what they do. We ARE in a War folks ... whether or not you want to admit it.
Hey, glad that the card actually worked. I wondered about that. Consider it a small token of appreciation from my wife Cindy and I (and our whole family) for all that you and your brother do for our country and our nation's freedom. It is a precious thing that is much enjoyed by many and paid for by the sacrifices of far too few. But, God Bless those who serve, as you both, and so many others, do.
As I thought about our conversation, I was so impressed with your grasp of the many social , political, military, tactical and religious aspects of the job that you do for us in Iraq. When I was a 2 LT in Germany, I had no Sp4 soldiers like you in any of my rifle platoons -- and I had two of them in my first year. But, when I when was a company commander of an infantry training company, OSUT (One Station Unit Training -- don't think they even have that anymore) at Ft Benning, a job I was picked for and did not pick and consequently I hated but grew to love -- we trained many soldiers that approached your caliber. That was in 1982 - 1983... before you were even born!
Each training cycle (we trained about 1200 infantry soldiers during my tenure), I would open the commander's in brief with this quote, from Sir John Stuart Mills, a British economist/philosopher from the mid - late 1800's. His essay, "On Liberty" had a passage that went something like this, which rang true in 1870, 1983 ... and still does today.
"War is an ugly thing, but not the ugliest of things. The decayed and degraded state of mind and patriotic feeling which thinks nothing is worse than war, is far worse. A man who has no greater care than for his own personal safety and well being, is a miserable creature, incapable of being free, unless made and kept so by the exertions of better men than himself."
I would tell them, our new troops, that was why they were here and that our task was to train them to be "those better men" and we tried to do that. Hopefully, we did, but I never met one of them (E-7-1 Echo Outlaws) again.
I tell you now, as one who has obviously seen the terror and tragedies of war up close and personal, where neither I, nor the majority of Americans ever will -- you are one of those better men. I want to thank you for that and tell you, your brother and your fellow soldiers, how much we appreciate and value your service in Iraq and Afghanistan. It is more real than most Americans will ever know and you have all paid a price, that we who have not been there, or done that, can never adequately repay.
I will keep you, your brother and your fellow soldiers in my prayers and ask that God watch over you and protect you as you do your jobs in the months to come. I will also pray for a peace that lasts, so that the work you do will endure and benefit the people of those countries for the long haul. When you return, if I can help you in any way, please let me know. My cell number never changes. My offer to help you go to West Point, should you decide you want to do that, stands ... and I would be honored to have you work in any company that I was involved with as well. Stay in touch and God Bless.