Received this email from a Marine in Fallujah via Colonel M. It's long and it's a very important read. I'll have a message for you at the end of this one.
To all my family and friends,
We just returned from offensive operations in areas I am sure that all you have read about or seen on the news. This is my first day off since we've been in country, and I don't know what to do with myself. My Battalion is taking a slight 24-36 hour "pause" while we prepare to return to security and nation-building operations. We've been working continuously since we got here and I forgot how to relax, but a good cigar helps tremendously. I was recently selected for promotion to Captain, so today I smoked a fine celebratory Cohiba that the Battalion Commander gave me. I couldn't have asked for better on my day off.
My cigar supply has worn thin. Although cheap Cubans are in great supply here, they are like smoking tree bark.
Life is OK in Iraq. Don't believe everything that you read. Yes, Marines and soldiers are dying, but it is a relative few. We are absolutely slaughtering the enemy in every area that we operate.
There are a few civilian casualties, but the insurgents are dropping like flies. We won't transform this place into California any time soon, but the Iraqis are enjoying running water, electricity, and rebuilt or new schools. The Iraqis are good people, and they realize the necessity of our presence here. Many of them don't want us to leave.
I appreciate the emails that you all have sent. I spent a lot of time this morning trying to read them all. I have had little luck being able to send emails from here. I have tried a number of times to reply to some of you a few weeks ago, but they bounced back. I hope this one gets out. The deployed military servers are so unstable. I can still get my personal email address, and you can now get me on this Marine Corps email account. Many of you have asked for my mailing address.First, I only removed his name and address to protect his identity. Second, if some of you want to send this Marine some cigars, I'll give you his address providing a few caveats:
Here it is: XXXXXXX
I have been thinking a lot about Pat Tillman for the last few days.
We all heard about his death shortly after it happened. There was a tremendous ripple effect throughout all ranks that was quite sobering. A great American was lost. Such is a dying breed: A man whose honor and loyalty exceeded well beyond the façade of patriotism represented by rain-drenched American flags we all saw hanging in front of houses for the few short months following September 11, 2001; a man who acknowledged that his good fortune in life existed only through the sacrifice of generations before him; a man who awoke every morning thankful to be an American and recognizing the distinction between the rights protected by the Constitution and the privileges many Americans think we deserve. We as a country have lost sight of this distinction.
As I read a Stars and Stripes article about Tillman, on the following page, there is an article about Gweneth Paltrow. She has voiced her frustration with the direction this country is heading. She is frustrated with the war and how the Bush administration has dealt with it, so she expresses her desire to raise her child overseas in Europe.
Protecting her right to raise her child in another country and speak freely about it is what men and women fight and die for daily. Under the former regime and the Ba'ath party, an Iraqi woman who expressed her frustration with the government in this way would have been arrested, tortured, and killed. Freedom of speech is something that most countries cannot comprehend, and it is something that we take for granted. Pat Tillman gave his life to protect Ms. Paltrow's 1st Amendment rights.
However, Gweneth Paltrow is not frustrated enough with this country to stop earning huge paychecks in Hollywood. She says that she will continue to make movies in the US. Her selfishness and hypocrisy is shameless. She spits in the face of the Bush administration and his aggressive national defense policy, but continues to reap the benefits and privileges of the same policies that have protected her. Who the hell is Gweneth Paltrow, the rest of the Hollywood elites, and their anti-Bush ramblings without the government that protects their views?
Pat Tillman gave his life to protect the privileges of wealthy, sanctimonious elitists whose only concept of sacrifice is having to miss their afternoon massage because the last scene took a little longer to shoot.
My former Company Commander always said that there are good Americans and there are great Americans. By his definition, I am a good American.
Becoming a Marine is something that I had always wanted to do. I traveled the long, winding road en route, but I made it. For that, I am proud. I merely recognized the privileges and opportunities that I have as an American and wanted to return the favor. (Experiencing life in a third world country is definitely validating that decision.) However, I did not sacrifice much to join the Marine Corps. I was mowing lawns the summer after I graduated from LSU, wondering what I would do if I was not accepted to become an officer in the United States Marine Corps.
I love being an American, and I love my job. I love fighting for my country. I left no wife or kids behind, no six-figure job. Being a good American does not necessarily mean joining the military. Being a good American is not a huge sacrifice. Good Americans just want to give something back.
Then there are the few great Americans. Pat Tillman had the "American dream." He made millions by playing football. In what other country in the world can someone become a millionaire by playing a sport, singing a song, or acting in a movie? Most young Americans idolize athletes, who give up college educations to enter the draft, earn millions of dollars, own a dozen expensive cars, and fondle strange women because they can. What ever happened to revering honor and integrity? Today's children would rather become rap stars or professional athletes than police officers or firefighters. Pat Tillman recognized that Americans risk their lives everyday protecting and defending the constitution of the United States of America and providing him the opportunity to earn millions of dollars. He recognized that only through strength could the peace and prosperity of this country survive. After American soil was soaked with the blood of thousands on September 11, he recognized that all the money in the world would not protect his family and friends from terrorism. Instead of throwing up a flag in front of his house, instead of wearing a yellow ribbon on his lapel, he has given the ultimate sacrifice of his life in defense of this nation. Pat Tillman is a great American.
Did you all think that because I was in Iraq, you were safe from my political diatribes?
Thanks to all of you that have emailed me. Great job on the MJM Foundation Gala- I heard it was another hit. Congrats to Mike and Loren. Congrats to Christine and Matt. Congrats to Dawn and Bobby.
I have thoroughly enjoyed all the photos of new-borns and toddlers from you- I am losing track. I hope I didn't miss anyone.I miss you all.
1. You send your name and address.
2. We have cooresponded previously via email.