04 April, 2006

Respect Goes Both Ways

There is plenty of room for criticism about the choices President Bush and Secretary Rumsfeld have made about Iraq and Afghanistan and their institutional plans for the military, but some of the accusations against them just don't hold water. For example, the idea that military personnel have been tricked/used and sent to war by people (Bush and Rumsfeld) who don't care about them and callously refuse to give them the equipment they need to protect themselves and do their jobs... Were that true, the soldiers themselves would be the first to recognize and react to it.

Jay Nordlinger provides voice to the kind of story that is actually quite familiar to those of us who know someone who has been seriously wounded in our current war. Nordlinger writes, "I have received much mail concerning Secretary Rumsfeld — almost all of it glowing, incidentally, and almost all of it from the military — and I would like to share a letter here:"

My brother, a captain in the National Guard, recently returned from Iraq. His unit, which provided security for convoys originating in Kuwait and traveling to any and all parts of Iraq, had one casualty — a soldier who lost an arm to an IED. While at Walter Reed, the injured soldier was having a conversation with a general and mentioned — somewhat in jest — that he wanted Rumsfeld to deliver his Purple Heart.

Well, the next day, who shows up in his hospital room — without security or photogs — but Rumsfeld? Rummy sat and talked with the soldier and his mother, who happened to be there, for about 45 minutes.

My brother says that the vast majority of the soldiers would crawl through broken glass for either Bush or Rumsfeld.
Nordlinger concludes, "What Rumsfeld did for that soldier — that simple act of kindness — was heartfelt. It cannot make up for the loss of a limb, but it says something about the secretary of defense and how he thinks about the men who serve under him."

And the response of so many warfighters (who are notoriously good at recognizing any fraud from miles away) to Bush and Rumsfeld also says something... something we civilians should be listening to.