Tuesday, November 16, 2004

War is Hell -- William Tecumseh Sherman

Sherman didn't mean just for the enemy. He had been on the losing side in several campaigns prior to his March to the Sea. War is indeed Hell for all participants, even for bystanders. No one knows this any better today than one young U.S. Marine in Iraq.

No one should judge what he did on the basis of a videotape on the news. No one sitting in the safety and comfort of their living room has any right to judge what he did unless they are willing to put themselves into his place and imagine what he had been going through.

This is a college-age man, barely old enough to vote, not old enough to drink alcohol legally. He was given a rifle, sent half-way around the world to an alien land to fight with fanatics who have no regard for their own lives. Sudden, violent death has been this man's most constant companion for months. What he did may not have been self-defense, technically, but he was certainly acting in the interest of self-preservation.

I, for one, am not going to cast stones at this man for reacting to a perceived threat in a very tense, now-or-never situation. God help him. I hope the Marine Corps will, but I have some doubts.

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