As college students hit campuses across the nation this week, a new generation of young veterans will step off the battlefields of Iraq and Afghanistan and onto the ideological battlefield of our university campuses. For those on the frontline in the war on terror, the antiwar hostility of liberal professors and campus activists will assuredly prove unsettling.
Just ask Marine sergeant Marco Martinez, a veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom and a full-time psychology major at Saddleback College in Mission Viejo, Calif.
“A woman on campus had apparently learned I might be a Marine. When I told her I was, she said, ‘You’re a disgusting human being, and I hope you rot in hell!’ “
Indeed, Martinez, who will be the first male in his family to receive a college diploma, says he is receiving more of an education than he bargained for: “There are a lot of people who don’t appreciate military service in college,” Martinez said. “If someone asks me about it, and I think that they’re not too liberal, I might tell them I was in Iraq. But I don’t tell them the full extent of it or anything about the Navy Cross.”
The Navy Cross–as in second only to the Congressional Medal of Honor. Martinez, formerly of 2nd Battalion, 5th Marines, is a bona-fide American hero and the first Hispanic American since Vietnam to receive the Navy Cross. During the Battle of At Tarmiya, one of Sergeant Martinez’s fellow marines had been hit in the legs and left for dead by five terrorists holed up in an adobe garden shed. That’s when Martinez used his body to shield the dying marine from the terrorist before mounting a 20-meter frontal charge at the bunker with nothing but a depleted rifle and a grenade. With enemy bullets pinging off his gear, Martinez unpinned the grenade, slammed his body into the adobe building, and lobbed the device into the window of the structure, killing all the terrorists inside.
But as liberal professors and antiwar activists continue to wage a nationwide campaign to rid university campuses of military recruiters–in some cases going so far as to throw water bottles and scream epithets at them–it is easy to see why Sergeant Martinez would remain tight-lipped about being one of the nation’s most decorated heroes.
Indeed, as one campus newspaper reported, the rift between young veteran college students and their civilian classmates has left those who have served feeling isolated from campus life, “shunned” because of their service.
Just ask Armand McCormick, 23, a student at the University of Northern Iowa.
While walking to class one day, McCormick stopped to listen to a speaker during an antiwar student rally. When he challenged the protestor’s arguments, the “peace” activist sneered, “The Iraqis don’t want us there. If you think the war is okay, then why don’t you go and serve!”
There was an obvious problem with the protestor’s retort: He had no clue who he was talking to—Silver Star recipient Marine corporal Armand McCormick.
“I’ve had a few conversations about [the War on Terror] in the liberal classrooms I go to everyday,” said McCormick. “A lot of the time I just look at them and tell them that they don’t have any clue what they’re talking about, because all they do is listen to liberal news. I always tell them, ‘If you don’t experience something, how in the hell can you say what will happen?’ “
As Corporal McCormick rightly points out, his classmates’ reliance upon the elite mainstream media all but ensures that they are unfamiliar with the jaw-dropping acts of heroism he performed on March 25, 2003, in Ad Diwuniyah, Iraq. Far removed from the breezy comforts of a college campus, it was there, inside an enemy trench, that McCormick, along with his two fellow Marines, captain Brian Chontosh and corporal Robert “Robbie” Kerman, was swarmed by what officials estimate was a company-sized element of between 150 to 200 Iraqi fighters. When the smoke cleared, the three marines had not only survived, they had eliminated scores of enemy fighters and regained key territory. It’s the sort of incident the campus Left should think about the next time it proclaims how “courageous” it is in protesting the war.
The Left has adopted the mantra that it opposes the war but supports our soldiers. Those veterans visiting campuses tell a different story; the early fault lines forming on our nation’s campuses do not portend hopeful signs.
For those who profess to embrace “diversity” and champion allowing “marginalized voices” to be heard, perhaps liberal professors, administrators, and students might learn something were they open-minded enough to listen to the heroes in their midst. Then, and only then, will they correct the tragic mistakes of the Vietnam era that valued politics more than patriots.
– Wynton Hall is currently co-writing (with Caspar Weinberger) Home of the Brave: Heroes in the War on Terrorism. Peter Schweizer is a research fellow at the Hoover Institution and author of The Bushes: Portrait of a Dynasty and Reagan’s War.