Dear America: Letters to America from Soldiers and Veterans
Did you serve in our country's military? What would you like to say to this nation, if you could say anything? Write a Letter to America and tell our country anything that's on your mind. With each location that the NPR program State of the Re:Union travels to, it asks residents to write a letter to their community, personifying their city or town and explaining what makes it special. For the fall Veterans Day special, host Al Letson will explore how veterans are serving each other after they come back home from their tours. NCPR is one of a few stations invited to partner in this important project. We're looking for personal, authentic stories that reflect how vets are feeling about their country and community.
11/3/10 (from a non-veteran, technically)
I joined the United States Army the day I was born. My Dad was career Army, like his dad, his brothers, my mom, and many others in our family. So I am a military kid, who lived the military life with our family.
My Dad served you with intelligence, hard work, and humor, in World War 2, Korea, Vietnam, England, Japan, and all over the US.
Many military members understand “Fighting is not the first choice. Solving problems is.” My Dad worked to bring people together in a room, to get to end results. It’s about not always agreeing on every issue, but understanding the value of sharing opinions and respecting each other.
I hope for your sake, America, that we stop our anger and divisive slurs. We came out of WW2 by coming together around problems, not driving people apart.
Thanks to the veterans who serve you. Thanks to the folks willing to go into politics and serve all of us.
Even though I was quite young, I had already traveled to and lived amongst other countries and cultures. It became very clear to me that if not for the US military, the rights and freedoms that we enjoy would not exist under other types of government. I realized for the first time how much I enjoyed the freedom and rights that the Constitution and Bill of Rights give us and I wanted to do my part in protecting it. So, I joined the United States Navy as a Journalist and did my part. Although not perfect, I think that you America, have the best form of government and the US is the best country in the world.
Dear America Kansas--
You probably don't remember me because it's been a while since I've seen you. I was born in Wichita, but soon moved away to live in other lands, such as Mexico, Romania, and, together with about a thousand friends from the 1st of the 16th Infantry Battalion, from your Fort Riley, even lived a while in a far-away place called Iraq. I'm in Georgia now, married to the love of my life, and about to apply for teaching jobs, but you're never far from my mind. I miss your sky. While your compadre up north, Montana, claims to have the biggest sky, I would put yours up against it any day; especially when combined with a gorgeous, golden field of wheat gently blowing in the wind. My family have gazed upon that beautiful American scene for years, and shed sweat, blood, and tears working hard to make your beautiful land bountiful and proud.
You know, it's not always easy supporting you. Wearing a Chiefs, Royals, Jayhawk, Wildcat, and Wizards jersey has not always made me the most popular person in the room. But I wear your colors with pride. Because no matter where I live or what I do I will always be your boy; I'll always be a Kansan.
To those who approached me when I wore the uniform and thanked me for my service, I am deeply grateful for your solidarity. When I returned from Afghanistan, I always had questions after such encounters, but I never asked them.
If you knew what Soldiers did in their day-to-day execution of this war, would you still thank me? Or are you as conflicted as I am now about the suffering that this nation inflicts in your name, but you wanted to “support the troops?”
If you aren’t conflicted, I must ask: does the military really defend you, or does it bomb, invade, occupy, spy on and infiltrate others? Who profits? Or is this an ideological crusade? If it is, how good does that ideology look against the mound of corpses piled up to support it? If we could predict our foreign adventures would result in this butchery, what does this say about our values to the people we are “liberating?” What does our global network of bases and thousands of nuclear weapons say about our enlightened intentions?
What did we actually intend to do in Afghanistan after the first months when our aerial bombing campaign had killed as many Afghan civilians “collaterally” as the September 11 hijackers killed deliberately?
If we look back at Saddam Hussein and call him a murderer because he ordered people killed, am I not also a murderer if I have done the same?
When did the government ever ask you for permission to invade another country, using your dollars and the blood of your children? Can you remember ever signing some contract saying that you were fully informed of all this and that you agreed with it and would pay its bill? Is there anything you’d rather do with the half of your tax money the federal government spends on the military?
If you realized that Soldiers would be duty-bound to slaughter just about anyone who put up a fight if given the order, including unruly Americans if it came down to it, would you still thank me for my service?
Is the good soldier braver for doing what they tell him is right than the resistor is for doing what he knows is right?
What will you do the next time someone calls for a war?
Stephen A. Mooney
As a young man I decided to join the US Navy. I thought I was doing it for me. When I arrived at my ship, the USS Kidd DDG-993, the Captain, Bud Flanagan held a meeting with myself and the other new crew members. He asked each of us why we had joined the Navy. After we all finished telling him we had joined for reasons such as "to earn money for college, to gain experience and training for a civilian career" etc etc the captain told us we were all full of sh*t. He reminded us exactly why we were there and what we were sworn to do:
Powerful words don't you think America? During my 5 years on Kidd the ship saw considerable activity in Lebanon, Grenada, the Persian Gulf. Considering all the events in a five year stint on a destroyer I find comfort in knowing I served YOU, and I will always appreciate and remember my Captain so plainly reminding me why I was there.
Our Founding Fathers were so amazing in their thought processes as they formed this great nation. Notice the oath, no allegiance to a king or any particular person, an allegiance to a document. Remember America you ARE that document.
Walter J. Relling
NCPR will post your letters at this location, feature a selection within NCPR's All In blog and pass them on to the national project at State of the Re:Union.
Here are the guidelines:
More information on the State of the Re:union website: http://stateofthereunion.com/