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Thank you for printing names, faces, and information in “Fallen Heroes” [March 2006]. As many others probably did with the issue, I flipped through the pages and only glanced at the pictures. Then I read “Heartbreak High” [March 2006] and ended up feeling like a selfish, self-centered person. I went back to the pictures. These guys did not just die—they gave their lives for all of us. I looked at each picture and read the ages and what was printed for each soldier. Yes, it took a lot of my time to read all 203, but I’m nearing eighty years and have had more time here than any of those fallen heroes were allowed.
MARY S. WILSON
I couldn’t help being struck by the irony in reading the stories about Master Sergeant James Coons [“Casualty of War,” March 2006] and how the Army is recruiting new soldiers [“Would You Buy What This Man Is Selling?” March 2006]. The Army promises these new recruits “free medical and dental care.” One must wonder if Master Sergeant Coons was given the same sales pitch when he signed on, only to discover that the army’s medical system let him down in his time of greatest need.
DAVID C. WILEY
As the soon-to-be wife of an Army captain (who has already served one tour in Iraq and will soon serve another), I read with great interest the stories “The Believer” and “The Protesters” [March 2006]. I have always believed that Cindy Sheehan has purposefully and selfishly exploited her son’s death to further her own interests. Obviously, Gary Qualls’ story is the story of only one man and one experience, but it speaks volumes about his character as a grieving parent. He shows us that you don’t have to act asinine or get arrested to have your case heard. He, unlike Sheehan, has done his late son proud.
I had to laugh, however, at the fact that although your magazine is themed “Texans at War,” you somehow found it necessary to include the anti-war sentiments from citizens of Virginia and Washington State. Seeing two scruffy-haired veterans, whose only argument against their service time seemed to be that war did not make them celebrity heroes or win them a hometown parade, fill two whole pages has made me reconsider ever buying your magazine again. You don’t join the military for the status it might bring you; you join for the hope you might bring others.
To the protesters: Your common thread was that the president lied about the truth when invading Iraq. I truly do not believe that this president lied. I do believe he rushed into this war, but that was because the American people changed after 9/11. We whined, cried, and insisted on retribution and safety. It was tragic, but we lost focus. We took blame for this event because, according to the world, we were too arrogant, too successful, too unwilling to believe that our Western way of life was to blame. Bush decided to make a stand in Iraq. Yes, oil is a big deal, and like it or not, every country in this world needs it. Period. But it is more than that. Democracy is the key to freedom. The freedom to pursue education, free enterprise, trade. With this freedom, hopefully, will come tolerance of others. I believe this is the goal that Bush wants to accomplish.
Having served in the kitchen at Camp Casey II, both in August and at Thanksgiving, I read with great interest “The Believer.” Mr. Qualls describes the crowd as being made up of “lesbians and gays” and “unruly people, shoddy looking.” That’s not what I saw. I saw the faces of veterans from World War II, Korea, Vietnam, the Persian Gulf War, and the current Iraq war. I saw ministers and college professors and students and ranchers and truck drivers and suburban moms pushing their kids in strollers. I personally spoke with many members of various Christian denominations, as well as several Muslims. It was as varied a group as you would find in any mall or park on any given weekend.
I am sorry that Mr. Qualls felt that his son was somehow dishonored by our protest. That was never our intention. Instead, we gather at Camp Casey to prevent any other family from hearing that knock at the door. We seek to honor the dead, heal the wounded, and end the war.
I just finished reading your article “Bush’s War” [Texas Monthly Talks, March 2006]. Anyone who believes for one minute that Bush’s war will turn out to be positive is living in la-la land. We went into this war on a lie and thought it was going to be an easy deal. We are breeding a new generation of Muslim fanatics who hate Americans with a passion. We will never bring democracy to Iraq. So why are we staying there? I bet that when we get closer to November 2006, we will see Bush come out and state that we have brought them democracy and it’s not our problem now and what happens after we leave is up to the Iraqi people. In the meantime, just look at the fallen heroes in this month’s issue.
The only emotion or word that comes to mind to describe my response to David Broyles’s experience as a pararescueman is simply “gratitude” [“No Direction Home,” March 2006]. Today, as I sat enjoying the quiet, I was invited into a world that I know so little about. It is kind of embarrassing to say, but I stay confused about the purpose of this war yet somehow feel protected by it. I live such a comfortable life as a wife and mother with so many things to juggle. Every day has a way of just happening. Yet today—for a moment—time stood still.
To the paratroopers who have returned home and to the ones still showing up like shadows in the night, I rejoice in your success and triumph. There may not be a party for your return home, even acknowledgment for a life rescued or speeches given on your behalf, but there is one—a stay-at-home mom from Texas—who for a moment took a deep breath, drew courage and strength from your sacrifices, and marched on!