Wednesday, November 16, 2011

A Veteran's Perspective

My email to Professor Michael Avery from Suffolk University

Professor Avery,
I recently came across an article focusing on an email you distributed to other faculty members at Suffolk University. In that email you made several remarks questioning the validity of support for US Troops deployed to other countries to "kill other human beings". I'm recalling the specific quote from memory as I no longer have the article in front of me.

I am a veteran of the so-called Operation Iraqi Freedom. I spent 15 months in ... in order to defeat Al-Qa'ida in the region and earned a bronze star medal for my efforts in leading a team of ... Throughout the 15 months I recorded all of my thoughts into a journal, those thoughts ranged from "What are we here for?" to "Have we made a difference?" and everything in between.

I would like to thank you for your valid and insightful question, namely - Why are we supporting these military efforts? Every Veterans Day I receive messages from friends and family members thanking me. "Thanks for fighting for our freedom", "Thanks for keeping us safe", "Thanks for defending our liberty" and so forth. Every Veterans Day I recall what I did in Iraq. I recall the families that were torn apart, the imbalance of economic and social scales because of our intervention, the uprooting of traditions, mores, and values by our activities. I also recall how freely we traveled back and forth from Kuwait to Iraq as I sat on a bus of crowded, unarmed American soldiers and wondered why Kuwait remained "terror" free yet so many Americans worried terrorism would reach their shores.

The truth of the matter is, I joined the Army to pay off my undergraduate loans. I experienced firsthand how US intervention rooted in capitalistic gain operated under a tired mantra of freedom. I saw real tears, real destruction, death and real terror by our hands and I keep all of this to myself ... I am proud to see the remarks you made at an institution that should always embrace and support rational thought. Yours was the most rational statement around this Veteran's Day that I encountered and I was so pleased to see the Academic Dean stand behind you and your statement.

Please continue to teach your students to think rationally and consider the ends to all our efforts. In retrospect I was seduced by a misguided patriotism, a ploy I hope further generations will see through.


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