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GySgtRet
04-30-08, 08:20 PM
Semper Fi

Quaker's are usually Conscientious Objectors.....

Dear Marines,

I worked nights as a waitress, paying my way through college, in Honolulu
during the early 80s. Between work and school, I didn't have much time to
meet other people, and my family was thousands of miles away. Several
Marines frequented the bar, and one GySgt. of a Marine sniper platoon, Larry
Hatfield, sensed my shyness and invited me to participate in a lot of Marine
recreational events. We became close friends, but I could never understand
how a person could look through a scope and willingly kill another human
being. As a Quaker, the very concept of a sniper troubled me. I was raised
that killing is always wrong - period. I often told him, and the other guys
in the sniper platoon, my opinion on this. They usually remained silent on
the subject.

As time went by, I lost contact with the Marines I knew from that sniper
platoon, but I was privileged, later on, to be invited to produce tours as a
volunteer (USO/AFE) for Marines on various bases overseas. Those of you who
have met USO/AFE entertainers know that we are nowhere near the combat
zones, and are in fact well-insulated from the horrors of war. We have fun
entertaining you; we love eating with you at the mess halls or sitting out
in the dirt and hearing your crazy jokes; we do our handshake tours of
hospitals and PR tents and feel good and then are lucky enough to go home
while you stay behind.

But Iraq was different. For the first time I found myself weeping at night
after I came back from doing handshake tours. I couldn't adopt the USO maxim
of looking the Marines in the eyes and shaking hands on the hospital tours,
because there were teenage Marines with no hands and no eyes. A bomb at a
well while I was ther e on my last tour left 200 women and children dead or
injured at the hand s of their own countrymen. The image of a Marine, badly
wounded, struggling to carry a small 3 yr old girl to safety is forever
seared in my mind.

I wondered - a lot - about the kind of sacrifice that it takes for a person
to volunteer in the Corps and experience this kind of tragedy on a regular
basis.

Iraqi women refugees would tell me, through translators, about how the
Kurdish women would throw their infants from trucks on their way to being
executed by Saddam Hussein in the hope that strangers would raise the
soon-to-be-orphaned children, and how often it was only the U.S. Marines and
military units who would help them get medical care if they did survive the
terrors inflicted upon them.

This is what I have learned about war and the Marines: that I have never
seen a U.S. senator cry while telling me about holding a dying friend in his
arms, and there 's precious few senators who come home from work missing a
leg or two.

That I have never heard a U.S. congressman tell me what it's like to pass
out soccer balls and writing paper to children who have been denied an
education since birth.

That I have never heard any politician or corporate leader describe to me,
as one Marine did after a show, that she wanted a better life for her child
back home but wanted better lives for the children of Iraq, too.

Marines are living - and sometimes dying - for democracy, not just talking
about it for the CNN cameras. They do their jobs, and come home, quietly, to
go back to farming in Iowa or driving trucks in Kentucky, and, for the most
part, don't talk about it. And God knows we civilians don't get an accurate
picture back home of what is going on.

I still think killing is wrong, but I have come to understand that sometimes
it is necessary and that lack of intervention, especially in humanitarian
missions in oppressed nations, is tantamount to pulling the trigger on
innocent civilians who only want what we want: a safe home for their
children and food on the table and the right to be who they are.

I'm not naive enough to think that most of our political leaders go to war
for compassion (I think most of them want to protect corporate interests),
but I do believe, from knowing the Marines I have been lucky enough to know,
that Marines act from compassion, decency, and with hearts bigger than most
people will ever experience.

I understand now that a sniper - or any Marine, in any job supporting the
ideals of the Corps - does what he or she does because the Constitution of
the United States is not some remote piece of paper; the idea of freedom is
real to a Marine.

As one young lance corporal told me, as he guarded us during a show set-up
in a particularly volatile area (after our show had been cancelled the
daybefore because terrorists had blown up an other 27 children nearby),
"Don't worry - we got your back."

It shames me to think that I had to leave my country on these tours in order
to understand what precious gifts I have as an American, that every day,
somewhere in the world, a Marine is watching my back. I never considered
that a sniper, or any Marine, may be asked to kill in order to save innocent
lives but now I understand.

So to all of you Marines out there, please accept this heartfelt thanks for
what you do. To the guys from the sniper platoon in Kaneohe - this is a late
apology for questioning you, and a thank you for what you have taught me,
but I hope some of you read this. In our American culture, we don't talk
much about being noble, decent, loyal and honorable. I have yet to meet a
Marine who did not possess all of those qualities. You are the big kids in
high school who didn't let the bullies hurt the little kids. If you are
reading this from Afghanistan or Ira q or Camp Lejeune; if you are reading
this from a V.A. facility; if you are reading this from your home, know
this: that what you do is important. When you are feeling weary and
discouraged, remember that there are people in the world living in freedom
because of you. Not only the refugees from war - but me, too.

Sincerely,
Laura Minor Alan

"The choices we make dictate the lives we live. To thine own self be true!"
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Big Jim
04-30-08, 09:04 PM
Gunny, this is an awesome post from someone who never was a Marine who honestly learned about the true meaning of our beloved Corps!! My only wish is that the same realization go out to every single person who claims United States citizenship!! Hopefully and maybe then and only then will our country will finally love us as much as we love it. After all, that's what WE want...isn't it? I know it's what I want....thanks Gunny for an awesome post!!!

GySgtRet
04-30-08, 09:08 PM
TO me this is a fresh perspective of what we as Marines have known since 1775. As she points out congressmen and senators need to be humbeled but probably won't even give her the time of day. It isn't a feel good story but I do feel good knowing that there is at least one non Marine in the world that sees it from a Marines point of view.

Semper Fi

nptwildcat
05-01-08, 10:39 AM
Outstanding. If others, besides us could just understand a little of what she learned......

pablox1139
05-01-08, 02:56 PM
God bless you for the work you do Ms ALAN......as much as the kindness of a Marine has touched your life......the kindness and love that you show others has touched us all.....you are a glimpse of home when you visit...and you take us from a very dark place if only for a short time....God bless you...Semper Fidelis!