Update: Emails are flooding in about Sergeant G from Iraq and Tennessee. I'll post them after the Jump.
" I want all of you to be safe. And please don't feel bad for us. We are warriors. And as warriors have done before us, we joined this organization and are following orders because we believe that what we are doing is right. Many of us have volunteered to do this a second time due to our deep desire to finish the job we started. We fight and sometimes die so that our families don't have to. Stand beside us. Because we would do it for you. Becasue it is our unity that has enabled us to prosper as a nation." - Staff Sergeant Marcus Golczynski, written a week before he was killed in action in Iraq.
Via MGySgt (Ret.) Evans, comes this heartbreaking photo and a response to those who would use it against what the family stands for...
Marines are responding to some letters to the editor. Here's one that's circulating the unofficial Marine email lists.
Dear Tennessean:The Tennessean's April 5 photograph of young Christian Golczynski accepting the American flag from Marine Lt. Col. Ric Thompson is one of the most moving and emotion provoking images I have ever seen.I attended funeral services for Christian's father, Staff Sergeant Marcus Golczynski, on April 4, along with my six year-old son, dozens of Marines, and several hundred others who came to pay tribute to this fallen hero.As one would expect, many of your readers were touched by this incredible picture. On April 9 you published two letters from those who have used this image as a basis to criticize President Bush and the war in Iraq. These writers should know that Staff Sergeant Golczynski had previously served one full tour in Iraq. He wrote to his family, shortly before his death on March 27, that he had "volunteered to do this a second time due to our deep desire to finish the job we started. We fight and sometimes die so our families don't have to." Tragically, Staff Sergeant Golczynski had only two weeks remaining on his second tour.
I look at the photograph of Christian every day. It is displayed prominently in our home. Our hearts ache for Christian and for all those who have lost loved ones in this controversial conflict. Our nation is at a historical crossroads. Do we call an end to the struggle in Iraq or press on? Staff Sergeant Golczynski eloquently told his son how he felt about giving up. Perhaps there is a lesson for all of us in this man's life and the choices he made. He was undeniably a man of tremendous courage and conviction. America must now choose whether to complete the job. When I look at the face of Christian Golczynski, I am reminded that doing what is right is not always easy and doing what is easy is not always right. Christian's dad knew that too
James Drescher Franklin, TN
Godspeed, Marcus Golczynski.
And a profound email from Marine Major (ret) Brian Jimenez:
Last week, I attended the funeral of a Marine who was killed in a firefight in Iraq. No road-side bomb here. He was leading Marines in a gun-fight. He was a guy who had volunteered to go back for a second tour in Iraq. There was no requirement for him to be there as he had previously discharged his obligation.
When I arrived in Lewisburg for the service, there were about a dozen leather-wearing biker dudes standing out in front of the church. They were lining both sides of the street holding large American flags on poles. Their leather jackets were adorned with patriotic emblems and messages. I think they call themselves "Freedom Riders" but I am not sure. There was a line of mourners waiting to get inside the church. There must have been, no-kidding, about a thousand people crammed inside that sanctuary. The various Armed Forces were represented there by young people in uniform, a large number of them Marines in their dress blues, friends and comrades of the deceased.
From the pulpit, the Marine's widow spoke of how proud she was of her husband as his orphaned son looked on with tears on his face. The Marine's brother also spoke on behalf of the family and related the same message of great pride and overwhelming grief.
After the service, the motorcade formed up with a unique escort - a mix of law enforcement vehicles and Harley Davidsons with flags streaming. I am estimating but it seemed to me that the line of vehicles stretched out for at least two miles. From the Church of Christ in downtown Lewisburg to Wheel cemetery on Highway 64 is about 15 miles. All along the route people stopped what they were doing, walked out of their homes and businesses and stood at attention along both sides of the street. They were holding signs and waving flags, holding their hands over their hearts, removing their hats, and saluting as the funeral procession rolled by. People pulled their cars over to the side of the road, got out, and stood with their hand over their heart. From where I sat, I did not observe one vehicle pass the funeral procession in either direction for the full 15 miles.
At the graveside, traditional military honors were rendered: the flag that draped the casket was presented to the newly fatherless eight year old, and an armed detail fired a 21 gun salute as "Taps" played. Warriors who wore medals for valor shed tears along with the ladies and gentlemen in fine (and rough) attire. It was like being on the inside of a very sad Norman Rockwell painting.
Yesterday morning in Najaf, Iraq, there was a protest by thousands of people. It was carried by all of the major news media. Citizens of Iraq were gathered in daylight in the public square to rail against the American occupiers on the occassion of the 4th anniversary of the military action that removed the statue of a ruthless dictator from their public assembly places. Incredibly ironic in that without those American occupiers, there would be no rally, no public demonstration, not even much in the way of private grumbling. Because without those occupiers, the man who organized the protest would be on a death sentence hit-list and any of his followers who dared to show up in a public venue would be in danger of being machine-gunned or possibly exposed to poisonous gas - and their families could also be summarily murdered without benefit of trial or investigation or even a record of where their bodies were disposed of.
So, this is progress. Don't be discouraged. In a letter to his family written shortly before his death, the late Staff Sergeant Marcus Golczynski had some pretty profound words for all of us:
" I want all of you to be safe. And please don't feel bad for us. We are warriors. And as warriors have done before us, we joined this organization and are following orders because we believe that what we are doing is right. Many of us have volunteered to do this a second time due to our deep desire to finish the job we started. We fight and sometimes die so that our families don't have to. Stand beside us. Because we would do it for you. Becasue it is our unity that has enabled us to prosper as a nation."
I have the program from his funeral service if you would like to come by my classroom to see it.
OK. So why did I send this to you? Well, in the days ahead, America will be addressing our commitment in Iraq. I want you to have an opinion. I may not agree with what you have to say but I will defend to the death your right to say it. Know this though: your opinion doesn't matter much if you don't vote or communicate with your elected leadership. That, in my humble opinion, is why we have good men fighting and dying in a distant land. You decide if the sacrifice is worthy.
Semper Fi, Major Brian Jimenez USMC (Ret)