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What Else Is In Scott's Head?

The blog site for writer Scott C. Smith. Some observations on the world we live in and life in general. And maybe some politics.

Thursday, November 11, 2004

A liberal veteran's perspective: Veteran's Day, 2004

During my first month of high school in 1986, I decided to join the Navy. I came from a poor family, and since there was no money for college, the military seemed a good choice.

As I went through the process to enlist (I was only 17 at the time), I very stubbornly insisted that my recruiter put me in for the military journalist program. He kept telling me I'd never get in, but since my aptitude test scores were high enough, he'd try. A few weeks later, I received the news: I was accepted into the journalist program.

Boot camp started in July of 1986, and in September of that year, I reported for duty at the Defense Information School at Fort Benjamin Harrison, Indiana.

Upon graduation I was sent to the Commander In Chief, U.S. Pacific Fleet public affairs office at Pearl Harbor. It was a great tour. By 1990, it was time to pick my next duty station. One choice was USS Blue Ridge (LCC-19), forward deployed to Yokosuka, Japan. I accepted the assignment.

Soon after, Saddam Hussein's forces invaded Kuwait.

USS Blue Ridge was sent to Bahrain to coordinate the U.S. Navy's operation in the Gulf.
In October, I made the journey to Bahrain to meet up with my ship.

1991 arrived, and we all knew that something was about to happen. Something big. We knew that we would soon be going to war.

At about 1:30 a.m. on January 16, 1991, general quarters was announced. General quarters is the signal to man battle stations. This time the announcement was accompanied by a terrifying sentence:

This is not a drill.

Although I was assigned to the ship as a journalist, my role during combat was to administer first aid. In fact, Blue Ridge was to be a backup to the hospital ships in the area if the casualties were high.

The place my group met for drills was outside on the main deck of the ship. It was pitch black when I reached the deck, and a few of the chiefs petty officers were directing us with the dull light of a glow-stick. I found my team and we waited. We didn't know what was going to happen to us. We all were scared, although if asked, I'm sure we would not have admitted to being afraid.

When my eyes had adjusted to the darkness I was able to see the sky, full of starlight. I had never seen so many stars before.

It ended up being a quick war, and casualties were light.

That's not the case today.

Conservatives like to say we liberals hate America, or that we hate the troops, because most of us do not support the war in Iraq.

No, we don't hate America, or the troops. We want them to come home, safely and uninjured, to their families.

Since this stupid, senseless war started, 1,155 U.S. troops have been killed; thousands have been injured, many gravely; and countless thousands of Iraqis have died.

All of this loss of life, wasted in a snipe hunt to find imaginary weapons.

And what did the Bush administration do when they realized that Iraq did not have the weapons it said Iraq had?

Nothing.

They just changed the reason we went to war. Each day that passes brings the possibility that another life will be lost.

All for the vanity of a man who didn't have the guts to fight for his country when it was his time to do so.

The blood that has been shed is on George W. Bush's hands.

I wonder how he will sleep tonight? I suspect with no difficulty.

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