In observance of Independence Day, National Review Online asked a group of servicemen (currently deployed and vets) — those for whom the rest of us are in debt for our freedom — to tell us why they fight. Here’s what they — with a key supporting role from an army wife — wrote.
While the Star-Spangled Banner exalts the land of the free and the home of the brave, the fact is this country is the home of the free because of the brave. God Bless our troops — and all those who came before them.
– Peter Brookes is a U.S. Navy veteran.
When your throat is so dry that water seems like an incredible luxury. When you jolt awake from nightmares of dark beings pursuing you to the point that you wish away sleep. When your over-taxed body aches past the point of muscle pain into deep bone agony. When every dark alley, every doorway, every fold on the ground seems to hold death or terrible maiming, it is natural to wonder why.
When messages from the people in America that you are defending with your life indicate indifference at best, ignorance overall, and hostility in gathering voice how can one not wonder why. Why do I do this?The answers are whispy, ephemeral, difficult to articulate. For duty, honor, country? That for some is sufficient, though they are mocked for their belief. For desire to keep family at home safe? A sensible goal when visions of tumbling towers, car bombs, and suicide attackers dominates the daily feed.
But when pushed beyond human endurance, when mind and body force each other to heights of courage and strength thought impossible, the answer is clear: We fight for each other. We fight so that the man on either side will know that regardless of how awful it gets we will not let him down. We fight because we share a bond those who don’t fight will never know.
– Gordon Cucullu has served as an Army Green Beret lieutenant colonel.
Sometimes, we must fight. We do so because freedom is worth defending, and tyranny must be opposed. America maintains a special role in defending freedom because our country does not just believe in freedom — freedom is our founding principle, our essence. Further, we live in the world’s oldest democracy and have been blessed with the strength to protect our freedoms and to help others who seek the same. The miracle of America is that we do not use our power to take away the freedom of others, as is the pattern of nations throughout history.
Instead, the American tradition involves sacrificing, as a nation, to enhance the freedom of others. Soldiers sacrifice by enlisting and serving away from home, while citizens mobilize to help them succeed. Soldiers and citizens have shared the burden of war, from General Washington convincing colonial merchants to help equip revolutionary soldiers, to the war bond drives of World War II. The need to defend freedom, and the sacrifice shared by our citizens and soldiers in the name of freedom, should be remembered on this day.
– Major Eric Egland is the founder of www.TroopsNeedYou.com, a charitable organization that is partnering with General Petraeus to mobilize the American public in direct support of victory in Iraq. He previously served on the ground in Iraq and Afghanistan.
I was scared that Eric was in Iraq while I was pregnant with our first son. But besides our shared faith in Jesus Christ, what helped me was the knowledge that Eric was part of something important. The liberation of Iraq and Afghanistan is important to the people of the United States, to the people of those countries, and to freedom-loving people around the world.
My family deeply understands that “Freedom isn’t free.” I grew up under Communism. My parents suffered under Nazi rule. These experiences taught us the sad fact that some people, when given the opportunity, will enslave others — and sometimes, only military strength can stop them.
Just as the Allies liberated Europe from the Nazis, and Western military strength made the Soviet Wall crumble, Iraq and Afghanistan were ruled by brutal dictatorships until liberated by the US and its allies.
I have lived under tyranny, and I despise it. Whether it masquerades as Fascism, Communism, or Islamic radicalism, it remains tyranny.
So, I am proud that my husband played a role in coalitions, led by America, that have liberated tens of millions of people. I am proud to live in America, and enjoy the freedoms it cherishes — and defends.
– Mrs. Ania Egland, wife of Eric, is a native of Poland. Eric returned home in time for the birth of their son, Noah, and they have since been blessed with another son, Daniel.
Iraq and its people have a special place in the heart and psyche of many American Marines and soldiers. For those Marines and soldiers who are “outside the wire” or work with Iraqis daily, the bond gets tighter every day. Marines and soldiers see themselves as protectors of the Iraqi people until such time as they can collectively protect themselves. Ask them and most will tell you the highlight of their tour was working with the Iraqi people. The cost has been enormous at times and none of us will ever return from Iraq the same as when we arrived. Some of us will return to the United States having more in common with the average Iraqi than the average American — at least for a while. Most have us have lost a friend here and many of us have lost more than that. But we all want the Iraqis to succeed and become a peaceful and prosperous nation.