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I Want You


J. D. Pendry


Our God and soldiers we alike adore

Evín at the brink of danger; not before;

After deliverance, both alike requited,

Our Godís forgotten, and our soldiers slighted.ĖFrances Quarles, 1632



Dear Mr. President:


Iím an old Soldier who was never very good at keeping his opinions to himself.Soldiers value candor.Good commanders do too.The millions of Americans in uniform are my family.Each week, I share thoughts with some of them and others.I hope you donít mind if I let them listen in on this.


Our Nationís leaders (even the Democrats) and Soldiers are at the top of the prayer list at Church and home.We believe our message is getting through to the Big Commander in Chief, but think itís being garbled in retransmission to our political leaders.All of the sophisticated communications equipment around the Capitol must be on the wrong frequency.


This week, I intended to write about the difficulties that military recruiters face.Counter recruiters, anti-war politicians, negative news stories Ėa whole litany of problems.I studied the topic to learn what we did during other times when we needed young people to step up and serve.Before World War I, for instance, we had 100,000 poorly trained and ill-equipped regular Army soldiers with which to build the peak force of nearly four million that eventually overwhelmed the Germans.Youíd be hard-pressed to find an American who felt threatened by war then, unless he was unfortunate enough to go sailing on an ocean liner or was in the trenches.Still, Americans supported because her leaders asked them to.The whole country went to war.


I studied Pearl Harbor and its remarkable comparisons with 9/11.Both attacks were in the morning, both were surprises although neither should have been, both were over in about two hours, both had nearly 3,000 casualties.The similarities end there, however.After Pearl Harbor, the President asked Congress for a Declaration of War and the lines of men at recruiting stations stretched for blocks.Americans at home sacrificed and supported our soldiers. The whole country went to war again.Today, unless youíre a Soldier or military family member, a yellow magnet sticker on the car is considered supporting.Politicians, whose motives are questionable and who should be the leading supporters of Soldiers, are instead bringing harm to them and my country with their rhetoric.


President Kennedy, ď...bear any burden, oppose any foeÖĒ committed American Soldiers to the jungles of Vietnam to fulfill his noble vision.Politicians tried to manage that war instead of allowing professional soldiers to win it.Itís right about here Mr. President, that history becomes quite revealing.There was an anti-war movement then and as now, prominent politicians and the news media supported it.Together, they turned America against her Soldiers.Now it seems to Soldiers, as it did in Vietnam, it is only they who are at war.All America knows of Vietnam is that American Soldiers died there for 10 years, but there is a piece to this story most Americans donít know or understand.You need to tell them about it.


If politicians, once theyíd gotten us into it had left the business of war to Soldiers, the outcome in Vietnam would have been much different.Our enemy was encouraged and emboldened to continue by the actions of Americaís anti-war politicians (some of which are still serving in Congress and still following the same plan) and false reporting by negative news media.The North Vietnamese were admittedly militarily defeated following Tet of 1968.You may recall that Mr. Cronkite reported to America that it was us who had lost.Because of this, how many more Soldiers died after 1968 that might not have Ė along with millions of Vietnamese and Cambodians?To paraphrase someone you know, this period is seared into the memories of that generationís American Soldiers.We need you to ensure that the same memory is not seared into this generationís Soldiers.


Mr. President, some great minds advise you.Iím sure they do it well, but might I be so forward as to offer some thoughts?Vietnam is in full replay, at least the part where people (who have never taken a step in a soldierís combat boots) set out to turn our country against her Soldiers and their mission.We were baby killers then, torturous Nazis now.Again, all America knows or hears about Iraq is that American Soldiers are dieing there.Donít let them throw away another generation of American Soldiers.Itís not too late to fix it, but it wonít happen using the current approach of hoping those filled with partisan hate will have an epiphany and do the right thing.


Itís time for you to lead sir.Soldiers admire leaders willing to get out front and turn the bureaucracy upside down to solve problems.We need you to look the anti-military and anti-war politicians and news media in the eye, and tell them what they are doing to America and American Soldiers.We need you to bring the message to Americans, who are not hearing it elsewhere, that weíre all at war for good and noble purpose and we will all revel in the victory or suffer in the defeat.


Mr. President, you have nothing left to run for or from.Politicians, who should be helping you, sadly, are too focused on their political careers to look out for my family.We know you desire to take the Christian approach.When weíre taught to love our neighbors (which include opposing politicians) as ourselves, it means we wish the same good things for them as we wish for ourselves.It does not mean that we must accept or tolerate their behavior.Mr. President, itís time for you to open up a tall can of Texas whup ass.If you pound the snot out of the loudmouthed anti-Soldier politicians and news media here at home, I assure you that my brothers and sisters of arms will do the same for our enemies in Iraq.Do that and our recruiting problem will take care of itself.


Please give my regards to the First Lady and the Girls.




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J.D. Pendry is author of The Three Meter Zone, Random House/Ballantine.


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