“Greater love than this no man hath, that a man lay down his life for his friends.”  John 15:13

 

 

I’m more than perplexed and downright annoyed mainstream media is replaying arguments about the Iraq War.  Republican candidates for President are being asked if they would’ve gone ahead with the invasion had they been President instead of George W. Bush.  One of the rare rightward leaning columnists at the Washington Post, Charles Krauthammer, suggests if his media colleagues have a habit of gotcha questions they could find another track.  You can see his reasoning here.  We also need to make it clear the second President Bush didn’t lie.  A writer at Daily Caller underscores the point at this link.  Most in media, however, prefer the canard.  In cahoots with the anti-war and America hating left for the last 50 years you won’t find another narrative.  Weapons of Mass Destruction did exist.  Saddam Hussein shipped them at the outbreak of war to his fellow Ba’athists in Syria where they were later used to combat what came to be known as the Islamic State or ISIS terrorists.  If I was making an oral argument at this point Lefty would be waving his arms wildly and shouting in hopes no one would hear my rational and truthful explanation.

A breezy Memorial Day Weekend in 2013. Courtesy, Bill Colley

My sister works with a wonderful woman who lost a son in Iraq.  Jason Dunham was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor.  He tossed himself on a grenade to save his fellow troops and friends.  His family grieves but his parents also realize the man they raised became an exemplar of John 15:13.  This Memorial Day Weekend it brings me to a larger point.  None died in vain.

Over the course of 29 years in media I’ve interviewed men and women who’ve fought in six American wars.  Only a tiny fraction fret about wrong choices and belittle their country.  In my experience it’s apparent these few had issues before they served, while serving and after serving.  Think Bowe Bergdahl!  The overwhelming number still get chills when they see a flag blowing in a breeze.  They speak of a love for the United States even with the warts the country has sprouted with age.  They also speak of a bond stronger than most any other friendship developed with the men and women with whom they served.  Pick up an old copy of Band of Brothers.  The remaining members of the featured unit are now all in the 90s and they witnessed unspeakable horrors crossing Europe.  They’ll also testify in combat they weren’t always fighting for the cause, the country or the flag.  They were primarily fighting for the fellow next to them on the line.  This is remarkable.  The veterans I’ve spoken with who followed them in Korea, Vietnam, Cambodia, the Gulf War and then the wars of this century all repeat the same justification for valor and survival.

The late Andy Rooney was a veteran of World War Two.  He carried a typewriter for Stars and Stripes.  Rooney may not have been gunning down the enemy but he was in combat without much for self-defense.  He bore witness to constant carnage and the ravages committed by madmen on the people of Europe.  He called it man at his worst but he also saw acts of superhuman heroism and called it man at his best.

None died in vain.  When it was belatedly reported Pat Tillman’s death at war came from friendly fire the salivating anti-war media kicked it into overdrive.  They had a martyr for all things they detested.  The military, a Republican President and the patriotism Tillman satisfied by leaving millions of dollars on a table when he left the National Football League.  Tillman wasn’t the first friendly fire casualty of war.  It’s as old as all human conflict, however.  As fire and ordinance rained down upon Tillman and his comrades he battled to save them.  The media frenzy devalued an American icon.  A man who turned down a life of stardom and died far, far away in a rocky and inhospitable land where the downtrodden citizens couldn’t appreciate what a few brave Americans were doing for them.

Tillman was a hero to an old co-host and friend, Jon Alvarez, who two weeks shy of his fortieth birthday enlisted in the Army.  He did it so someone else could come home early from war.  He finished atop his class physically and scholastically not only in basic but in advanced training.  Local media portrayed him as a fool and his time away ended his marriage.  I hurt for Jon.  I also know of no other man for whom I have such abiding respect.  He withdrew from public life after returning from war and, yet.  The men who served with him have the same deeply rooted respect.

My daughter, Jon Alvarez and I decorated graves at a veteran's cemetery in 2004. Courtesy, Bill Colley

Yes, war is a terrible pursuit and good people die and we look for answers and we look to assign blame.  Still, this weekend when you stand beside the headstones of the fallen remember the sacrifices they made long before giving the last full measure of devotion.  None died in vain.  No greater love.