Sometimes It’s Better To Let It Go…
By RU Fan – James
On July 2, 1976 the Country of Vietnam was unified under the flag of Communism after the United States cut off all military aid to South Vietnam. Many of those that wore the Uniform in Iraq were not even born yet.
Flash forward 38 years and many of us are now experiencing the same feelings of loss, betrayal, and left wondering, did my brothers died for nothing? These feelings are warranted. I spent a night losing sleep and asking: what was it for? Why are my brothers gone? Why did I destroy my body for a people that didn’t care about defending their own country? My anger at those individuals that drove across the Iraq/ Kuwait border and kissed the ground like they had just fought their way out of Bastogne was overwhelming.
Then I took a second to think about what I had seen and done and survived in Ramadi and later in the Ninewa province. I took a moment to think of the good things that my brothers and I accomplished. The difference between Ramadi in February of 2007 and the difference just a few short months later after AQI realized they stood no chance against us and attempted to escape us by fleeing into the dessert. I thought about the good memories that I made pulling guard on a bridge across a canal in the middle of the dessert in the winter watching my water bottle slowly freeze. I thought about the experience I gained as not only an Infantryman but as a man as well.
As I thought about this I thought I couldn’t be the only one that felt this way—there has to be someone out there that felt the same as me. I talked with a few of my brothers at the office and many felt the same as I did. They were proud of the work they had done in Iraq and, for the most part, were not surprised at the failure of the Iraqi Security Forces to keep the peace. I thought of my Uncle that served during Vietnam and how it must have felt to watch North Vietnamese tanks role into Saigon and smash down the gates of the former U.S. Embassy. Probably about the same as I felt watching Al Qaeda flags being flown down the streets of Ramadi. Once again a striking comparison between our war and the war in Vietnam.
I woke up after a long night of tossing and turnin,g looked at my four month old daughter sleeping, and thought to myself—we did everything we were asked to do. Like our brothers that fought during Vietnam, we went where our country asked and we fought with honor. We braved roads that exploded every day and we fought a tough well trained enemy that was not afraid to fight back. Many of us went back once, twice, three times—some, many more. We fought for our brothers next to us we experienced the highest highs and lowest lows. While I had every right to be angry for the situation in Iraq, I also owed it to myself and brothers to not let that anger eat me up, the truth is…I’ve moved on.
So, why should you move on? First, I’m not saying it’s not bullshit—it is. I more than anyone wish that we could go back and put that group of trash back in their place. However, that’s not going to happen for now. We’re done in Iraq and, pending something real serious happening, I don’t see us going back anytime soon. So unless you want go back like Johnny J in First Blood Part 2 then you may have to wait for a while.
The Second reason to move on, and probably the most important, is you’ve earned the right to live a full and happy life. Even if you just spent 12 months checking ID’s at a chow hall you’ve still done more than most.
So because I said so and I’ve earned it is as good of reasons as any. They will never get rid of the fact that our brothers died in a place not of their choosing. They died in a crap hole of a country, yes; and the ones that didn’t die had their lives changed forever. They carry the scars on the outside and in. It unfortunately is a club that too many of us belong to.
However, unlike our brothers from another unpopular war, we have the benefit of history to help us. We can let go of the anger and disappointment that many of us still carry and was renewed very recently. We have the chance to not wait twenty years to let go of our anger. We can only do this together, but we need each other—like always we are strongest together.
If you take anything from my words, take this: your service in Iraq was honorable and there is no one on this planet that can tell you anything different. Whatever branch you served in, whatever crap hole in Iraq you briefly called your home, you belong to a brotherhood. And those of us that served with you will always be there for you. Never, ever doubt that you made a difference and don’t allow anyone to ever say it was not worth it.
Opinions expressed are that of the author and do not necessarily reflect that of The Rhino Den or its parent company, Ranger Up.