Prior to joining the Infantry (I fought proudly in Iraq with the Big Red One, and shall join my brethren of the 173rd Airborne in Afghanistan soon), I was at the 2003 Protest in London, an American ex-pat's son, visiting the town on the wrong day. A man, unaware that I was an American, burned the US flag before my eyes. Needless to say, this Kentucky Boy knocked him out. I even kept the newspaper clipping- a kid being dragged off by two british cops, clutching a charred flag, the mob trying to grab him. His right to burn my flag was the same as my right to feel threatened and retaliate. Freedom is a two-way street, and it took me a 15 month combat tour to realize that.
Protesters have the right to protest, and Soldiers are forced to stand down. On the other hand, Patriotic types are also free to fly "Support Our Troops" banners in their windows and such.
On an off-topic, most protesters these days are kids in college, and few are really certain why they are there or what they are standing for. A windsock generation, blowing freely in the winds of popular thought.
Regardless , Let me tell you another story.
I returned home from Iraq in 2008, following the Insurgent Counteroffensive. (Basra and Baghdad were in chaos, remember? Much ass was kicked.) and decided to spend my leave at my brother's university. I was immediately alienated by his peers, who picked me out as a sole target to voice their opinions, regardless of whether or not they had any proof. Eventually I broke down, telling them to just simply "change the channel"- to ignore the truths and firsthand accounts I brought from Iraq, dismissing it as easily as one changes channels on TV. The next day, several of them came and apologized, having changed their opinions about the US military and the War. Two of them now run the care package-sending group out of thier university, though they still disagree with the war.
Sometimes ignorance is the big factor. Its easy to take the good life for granted when you know nothing else.
I believe they have the right to say what they want. Regardless of whether or not they are ignorant, disrespectful or hurt my feelings or those of my brethren. I cant speak for all the Military, but I joined the infantry in the post 9-11 world not out of hate, but out of love. Love for my country, love for its timeless core values (that still linger if you look hard enough), Love for my people, even if they chose to belittle me, my guys or our actions. Let them be them. I know what I have done, and I have no regrets. I will keep trying to tell them how it really is, and will never hesitate to go back. Maybe, just maybe, between the education and the combat.. I can help take the dismal present and form it into a better tomorrow.
That is the American Dream, isnt it?
Answered By: firesofliberation - 3/11/2009