Our kids know America is doing a noble thing in Iraq.
They know about brave PFC Lynch and her rescuers. About Coalition soldiers giving chocolate to Iraqi kids. About statues of Saddam Hussein being toppled. About water and food coming in by the ton to aid suffering Iraqis.
We can’t tell them everything because they are all under nine. How do you explain the hunt for a man like Chemical Ali, who gassed the Kurds? Or the discovery of a warehouse filled with human remains, where atrocities were committed and photographed for posterity? Or about a pregnant woman blowing herself up in order to harm our soldiers?
The facts say a lot about the mission:
They grab conscripts off the streets and order them to drive suicidally at Coalition troops.
We renamed their international airport for the capital city, not for its cruel dictator.
They herd civilians into the crossfire.
We cradle babies who were wounded in the crossfire.
They torture children in front of their parents.
We give water, candy, and smiles to shyly approaching children.
We provide EPWs with the best medical care they’ve ever received.
They execute our captured soldiers and jeer over the bodies.
Our kids don’t know all of that.
But they know about 9/11. About one little classmate whose dad went to work that day and never came home. About the baby brother who would never know his father. About that student’s older brother who came to school and spoke to the kids before he was deployed to Kuwait. About our friend, a major in the United States Marine Corps, who is in Iraq. They saw him on TV.
We received an e-mail from him this weekend:
Hi guys — I am just out of Iraq and heading back in in a few days. Things are OK. Most people are saying things are going great, but I stay more grounded than that as I feel if I asked a number of parents who lost some of our Marines at Nasiriyah they would not agree with our perspective. This is a real thing and kids are not coming home — this is not an adventure anymore. I truly feel like we are doing good here as this world will hopefully be a better and safer place. It is your job to let your children know that other people paid a sacrifice for them when they will be able to play little league baseball without having to show papers to cross a county border or get searched by armed military in a “police state.”
Some of the things I have seen make me proud to be an American, but more so it MAKES ME APPRECIATE IT. We do not have our children living with no electricity, no shoes, no water, filth in the streets with trash stuck to barbed wire, waiting at corners to beg a foreign military for handouts as they drive by. Our kids do not literally spend an entire day filling dirty old plastic containers with water that leaks from a pipe at a military checkpoint. We do not have a war-torn town or mass graves on the outskirts of our town where hundreds of our residents were either shot in the head or gassed by our own leaders leaving children with their eyes wide open and foaming blood draining from their little cute-noses still being held by their also dead parents…and our kids do not hide their faces in fear of death if their faces ends up in a photo which may be thought of as “aiding the enemy.”
No — we do not have those problems — we get upset because we expect to be given everything and it is always someone else’s fault. We blame our crimes on the neighborhood we grew up in. We get upset because the cable goes out or the traffic light is too long…and God help us if the AC goes out — yeah our lives are practically unbearable…
Our kids have not read this e-mail but I think they would get it. Don’t worry, Major Dave, we’ll let the children know.
— Susan Konig, an NRO contributor, has just written a book, Why Animals Sleep So Close to the Road (and other lies I tell my children).