Wednesday, May 11, 2011

"Meanwhile, in the War in Afghanistan...." by Bing West

I’ve been catching up reading some back issues of the The Wall Street Journal, and came across the article, “Meanwhile, in the War in Afghanistan…” by Bing West. Straightforward and dispassionately written, this essay takes a look at the “grunts” of the Third Platoon of Kilo Company, Fifth Marine Regiment.

From the article:

Back in the U.S., the news was dominated by events in Libya, the start of March Madness in college basketball and the latest court appearance of Lindsay Lohan. The fighting season in Afghanistan had begun, too, but in the U.S., the decade-old war is now largely ignored.”

“'That’s a different world,'” replied Capt. Johnson, who is on his third combat tour. 'In the States, a bad day for a guy on his way to the office is a flat tire. A bad day out here is a double amputee. The public pays attention to Charlie Sheen. No one’s heard of Sgt. Abate.'”

The article goes on to explain how, after a patrol hit a minefield in late October, Sgt. Abate “had left his safe position and run to apply tourniquets and carry out the screaming, grievously wounded men. He was killed in action five weeks later, but only the platoon remembers his name.”

And for all those who think that the end of collective bargaining is the end of the world, West points out that these men “have volunteered to serve, and most of them will leave the military after four years, with no pension or benefits. They endure the mud, heat, stench, blood, fatigue and terror of lost limbs and lost lives.”


“The grunts chose their profession,” West writes, “and they draw satisfaction from their Spartan existence. Almost every member of the Third Platoon said he wanted to be right where he was, living in a cave on the most dangerous battlefield in Afghanistan.”

Folks, this is integrity. And although it’s obvious that, to these men, recognition back home would be nice, it doesn’t determine their actions and it certainly isn’t what motivates them.

Today, as we read the latest headlines and find ourselves enamored with the divorce of Arnold Schwarzenegger and Maria Shriver, maybe it’s time we exit the internet and write a letter of thanks to a soldier, say a prayer for their safety and pay more attention in general to what really matters in life, and less to what never mattered to begin with.

Please take time to read the entire article here:

“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” Philippians 4:8

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