Douglas W. Jones

IN PROTEST OF PROTEST

Last night I received a phone call from a young man whom I can barely remember. He called to tell me about a fight that he and his friends got into. He said that they did well and that he was just happy that they all survived. Because, you see he is the leader of these guys and felt responsible for the safety.

He said he really called to thank me for the training he had received. He thanked me for being a good teacher and mentor. Having been raised without a father, the fourteen weeks we spent together he said I took the place of his Dad. And that helped him to learn, and has made him a better leader.

See, I am a teacher, but not like any that you know. Though I may be good in math and history, I am not that kind of teacher. I am a soldier. And I was his Drill Sergeant. I didn’t teach him how to spell; I taught him how to shoot. I didn’t teach him how to add, I taught him how to move as a member of a team. I didn’t teach him geometry; I taught him how to communicate and survive on the battlefield.

As a Drill Sergeant I have met and trained over fifteen hundred such young men. And I am proud of every one of them. They have made a commitment to their country and our way of life. They stand in the path of danger and protect each and every one of us. They do this without asking for anything in return, except maybe our respect and appreciation for what they do.

This morning I saw an article on the many protesters of the war with Iraq and other places around the world. And some are even protesting those who are fighting. Grown, American men and women are protesting the decisions of the President. I don’t remember seeing any of their names on a ballot. I don’t remember seeing them on TV announcing that they were running for office. But now that the heat is on they want to take a stand and voice their opinions. And you know what, that’s okay. After all, these soldiers of whom I speak are doing the same thing I’ve done for the past seventeen years. And that is fighting for their right to stand in protest, voice their opinions, and even burn a flag if they wish.

I told the young man that I don’t understand why it happens and that I’ve notice that all the flags are put away, you know, the ones that were flying everywhere you looked after 9-11. It reminds of the old soldiers’ saying. “No body likes a soldier until the enemy is at the gate”. I also told him that I had a question for all that are protesting, and all those that complain, and the many that think our military is over strength and over paid. And the question is in two parts but is simple. Why don’t we leave politics to the politicians, and the wars to the ones who are trained to fight them? And instead of burning flags in protest, why not raise them high in the air and stand together in support of our loved ones who are committed to office, and the soldiers who support their decisions? Soldiers who I’ve trained, admire, and respect for their courage to fight for their beliefs, and for the love for their countrymen.

These words are mine. These thoughts are theirs.