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The Mudville Gazette is written and produced by Greyhawk, the call sign of a real military guy currently serving somewhere in Germany. Unless otherwise credited, the opinions expressed are those of the author, and nothing here is to be taken as representing the official position of or endorsement by the United States Department of Defense or any of its subordinate components. Furthermore, I will occasionally use satire or parody herein. The bottom line: it's my house.

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October 31, 2005



The New York Daily News, 22 March, 2003:

War in Iraq claims first blood

U.S. and British forces rolled into Iraq yesterday, starting the ground invasion, but they also suffered their first casualties.

A CH-46 Sea Knight helicopter crashed in Kuwait around 7:40 p.m. New York time, killing all 12 on board. Casualty figures, which originally stood at 16, were revised early this morning.

Four of the men were American, the rest British, U.S. military officials said. There was no immediate word on whether the chopper was shot down or crashed accidentally.

The first loss in a war that at the time was expected by many to claim tens of thousands of coalition lives. Unlike today, there was no shortage of protesters:
Protests erupted around the world as hundreds of thousands of people took to the streets to oppose the U.S. attack on Iraq. Traffic was stopped in Chicago, and Times Square was filled.
Among the first to fall was Marine Captain Ryan A. Beaupre, of St. Anne, Illinois:
In his tiny hometown of St. Anne, Ill., Marine Capt. Ryan Beaupre was known for his unruly red hair and easy smile. He was the type to surrender his turn on the phone to other Marines with wives and children back home, family and friends said.

Beaupre, a graduate of Bishop McNamara High School and Illinois Wesleyan University, died March 21 in a helicopter crash near the Iraq border. He had joined the Marine Corps in 1995. The family has two other children, Kari Leisure, 28, and Christopher, 22.

And to them he left one last letter home:
Mom & Dad,
Well if you are reading this, then things didn't go well for me over in Iraq. I'm sorry for the pain that I have caused you because of this. Please do not be upset with the Marine Corps, the military, the government, or the President. It was my choice to go into the military. The President and my higher commanders were just doing what they thought was best. Realize that I died doing something that I truly love, and for a purpose greater than myself. There is a paragraph that I read from time to time when I lose focus. "War is an ugly thing, but not the ugliest of things. The decayed and degraded state of moral and patriotic feeling which thinks that nothing is worth war is much worse. The person who has nothing for which he is willing to fight, nothing which is more important than his own personal safety, is a miserable creature and has no chance of being free unless made and kept so by the exertions of better men than himself." John Stewart Mill Now there is a little Marine Corps bravado in there, but I do believe in the basic premise. I want you to know that I could not have asked for better parents, or a better family. ..... I'll never forget that one of my friends in elementary school said that if he could trade places with one person, he'd trade places with me because of my parents and home life. I truly feel that I've had a blessed life thanks to you two. Please give my love to Alyse & Ryan, Kari & Matt & the girls, Chris & Brandy, and everyone else in the family.
All my love,
Semper Fi.


The final letter home from Marine Corporal Jeffrey B. Starr, killed in action in Iraq, April 2005, reveals an unwavering sense of purpose:
Obviously if you are reading this then I have died in Iraq. I kind of predicted this, that is why I'm writing this in November. A third time just seemed like I'm pushing my chances. I don't regret going, everybody dies but few get to do it for something as important as freedom. It may seem confusing why we are in Iraq, it's not to me. I'm here helping these people, so that they can live the way we live. Not have to worry about tyrants or vicious dictators. To do what they want with their lives. To me that is why I died. Others have died for my freedom, now this is my mark.
The New York Times found this letter so abhorrent to their side in the war on terror that they censored it - the end result was something entirely different in meaning from the original. The New York Times is fighting a war based on lies.


While the dedication of the troops to their cause may be unprecedented, the words of Theodore Roosevelt from nearly a century ago remind us that there's nothing modern or progressive about the Times' sort of intellectually vacant moral cowardice:
Let the man of learning, the man of lettered leisure, beware of that queer and cheap temptation to pose to himself and to others as a cynic, as the man who has outgrown emotions and beliefs, the man to whom good and evil are as one. The poorest way to face life is to face it with a sneer. There are many men who feel a kind of twister pride in cynicism; there are many who confine themselves to criticism of the way others do what they themselves dare not even attempt. There is no more unhealthy being, no man less worthy of respect, than he who either really holds, or feigns to hold, an attitude of sneering disbelief toward all that is great and lofty, whether in achievement or in that noble effort which, even if it fails, comes to second achievement. A cynical habit of thought and speech, a readiness to criticise work which the critic himself never tries to perform, an intellectual aloofness which will not accept contact with life's realities - all these are marks, not as the possessor would fain to think, of superiority but of weakness. They mark the men unfit to bear their part painfully in the stern strife of living, who seek, in the affection of contempt for the achievements of others, to hide from others and from themselves in their own weakness. The rôle is easy; there is none easier, save only the rôle of the man who sneers alike at both criticism and performance.

It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat. Shame on the man of cultivated taste who permits refinement to develop into fastidiousness that unfits him for doing the rough work of a workaday world. Among the free peoples who govern themselves there is but a small field of usefulness open for the men of cloistered life who shrink from contact with their fellows. Still less room is there for those who deride of slight what is done by those who actually bear the brunt of the day; nor yet for those others who always profess that they would like to take action, if only the conditions of life were not exactly what they actually are. The man who does nothing cuts the same sordid figure in the pages of history, whether he be a cynic, or fop, or voluptuary. There is little use for the being whose tepid soul knows nothing of great and generous emotion, of the high pride, the stern belief, the lofty enthusiasm, of the men who quell the storm and ride the thunder. Well for these men if they succeed; well also, though not so well, if they fail, given only that they have nobly ventured, and have put forth all their heart and strength. It is war-worn Hotspur, spent with hard fighting, he of the many errors and valiant end, over whose memory we love to linger, not over the memory of the young lord who "but for the vile guns would have been a valiant soldier."

(Updated with 2005 and 1910 sections added to original post from 2005-10-27 16:00:55)

Posted by Greyhawk at 10:00 PM | Permalink | Comments (10) | Trackbacks (5)

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