Thursday March 19, 2003, 0315 GMT: “My fellow citizens, at this hour American and coalition forces are in the early stages of military operations to disarm Iraq, to free its people and to defend the world from grave danger. Saddam Hussein has placed Iraqi troops and equipment in civilian areas, attempting to use innocent men, women and children as shields for his own military; a final atrocity against his people. I want Americans and all the world to know that coalition forces will make every effort to spare innocent civilians from harm. A campaign on the harsh terrain of a nation as large as California could be longer and more difficult than some predict. And helping Iraqis achieve a united, stable and free country will require our sustained commitment. We come to Iraq with respect for its citizens, for their great civilization and for the religious faiths they practice. We have no ambition in Iraq, except to remove a threat and restore control of that country to its own people.” Commander-in-Chief George W. Bush, Declaration of War on Iraq: Address to the Nation and the World.
The declaration of war on Iraq divided and confused our nation. Many Americans wondered why we were moving precious limited military resources from Afghanistan to Iraq before we caught and prosecuted Osama bin Laden for his crimes against the United States on September 11, 2001. Many Americans asked if our country simply gave up on the dangerous illusive mission to hunt and find bin Laden and al Qaeda operatives in the deep caves of Afghanistan. Families of service members from at least 35 countries were stricken with grief and fear as we soon realized that perhaps the war on terror was unlike any other war we have fought: Middle East terrorists will kill themselves, will kill innocent people, and will kill enemies, in the name of their God.
Five years later, the citizens of America and the World now know more truths about the intelligence behind the decision to declare war on Iraq. Some of the 2008 Presidential Candidates have expressed regret over their initial decision to support the war on Iraq in 2003. Some citizens acknowledge that it was not the Iraq War or the mission itself that was a problem, but the way we engaged in the Iraq War that harmed our allied foreign relations and put American homeland security at greater risk. Many people felt that Commander-in-Chief George W. Bush was finishing his Father’s Desert Storm mission and had motives to control the region’s natural resources. Some people even suspect that our government was involved in a 9/11 conspiracy.
America and the World remain divided about the future course of action needed to stabilize Iraq and the Middle East region. Throughout the five years of the Iraq War, one thing stayed constant, however: our troops’ loyalty, dedication and commitment to their commanders. Soldiers of peace fought relentlessly; many brave soldiers died for their countries, and all the World’s freedom-fighting troops remained focused on accomplishing the mission in the name of humanity. Whether our troops agreed or disagreed with the politics of the Iraq War, the soldiers followed orders, did their job, and were proud to serve their countries. We can only learn from their courage.
While most of us do not understand the religious convictions of the radical al Qaeda operatives, some people say we should leave those people alone to fight their own war. Through a seemingly bizarre fate, the young people of some Middle Eastern countries are recruited and trained, using propaganda and militant strategies, to defend their beliefs. Radical suicide bombings is not a war tactic that we can comprehend. Can we fault them for that if they are fighting for what they were taught to believe? When a leader of a country kills his own people who threaten his power, do we step in? When we do step in, how long do we take to rebuild a nation for the people left behind? These are all questions of war and questions about the war on terror that continue to divide the World.
When brainwashed young militants attack innocent people on our homeland, America will retaliate. When terrorists kill any innocent people, the World must retaliate. These two radical acts of violence do not represent what the World defines as freedom, democracy, and humanity. The war on terror is not about religious beliefs; it is about humanitarian beliefs. We should not forget history and what happened when the World did nothing to those who killed innocent people in the name of power. Have we made progress in the war on terror? Only time will tell. We can only learn.
As we continue to pray for all of our brave service members fighting for freedoms around the World, our family celebrates the safe return of our career Naval service member from Iraq. Our Naval family member served missions in Desert Storm, the Afghanistan War and the Iraq War. He returned home from Iraq on March 17, 2008, just two days shy of the five-year anniversary of the Iraq War. We look forward to the safe return of another family member from Iraq in the coming year. Our hearts deeply sink for those families who have lost loved ones and who so bravely gave their lives for their country and for our freedoms. On this five-year anniversary of the Iraq War, to those family members who lost loved ones and to all surviving service members and their families, we thank you for your unparalleled sacrifice.
We cannot imagine the day-to-day experience of our troops fighting in the Iraq War or any war. Our Naval family member served a security detail at a Marine base, which was not his normal job in the Navy. I will leave you with part of an email titled, So Long Iraq, that our family member wrote. May God bless our leaders to make the right decisions, our troops to return safely to their homes, and our enemies to see that peace is what is right.
Well the day is finally here. Time to go home. I am looking forward to getting home to (wife’s name censored) and the kids, and leave Iraq behind. The kids screaming and arguing over the X-box will be a joy for me, in comparison to the facilities and entertainment package this crap hole has provided. I will certainly miss sleeping in a metal storage container 40 yards away from the runway, although after the first 150 jets or so flew buy I learned to sleep right through it. It will take some getting used to as opposed to sitting around doing nothing and the next thing you know a nice earth shaking KA-BOOM rattles off in the distance. I don’t think I will be able to use a porta-crapper again in my life, ever! Although I must say it was better than going to the boat, I only had one roommate instead of 120 of them, and the showers were normally clean. With all joking aside, it was a vacation compared to what some of the soldiers are/have had to live in. You may not support the war, but I hope each of you support the troops that are over here and ask that you keep each and everyone of them in your thoughts and prayers. Thanks to all of you that sent over the emails and care packages. The guys and I really enjoyed them, and it made our 30-minute Christmas, not a complete bummer. So, there is a small sampling of life in the amazing country of Iraq. Sit back, close your eyes and envision the joy.
Bush Declares War, CNN