The Associated Press reported recently that a trailside memorial to an American soldier killed in Afghanistan had been vandalized. The memorial to Sgt. 1st Class Daniel Petithory, adjacent to the Ashuwillticook Trail in Cheshire, Mass., was defaced with the words "Oil," "Bush," "Christian Crusade" and other phrases.I agree with Lambert that there's a huge difference between the U.S. decision to invade Afghanistan and the later decision to invade Iraq.
Dan Petithory was one of my soldiers. He was an Army Green Beret and was killed on Dec. 5, 2001, north of Kandahar as he and his A-Team were closing in on the home of al-Qaeda and the Taliban leadership. I attended Dan's funeral in Cheshire along with Sens. Edward M. Kennedy and John Kerry ...
Kerry gave the eulogy and moved us to tears, acknowledging that this war was one that we had no choice but to fight. Toward the end of the Mass we shook hands, giving the sign of peace.
... I was a soldier in 1969, and I witnessed misguided students and adults attacking individual soldiers because of their disgust with national policy. In the '60s the purveyors of hate on the left were mostly resident on campus and could not differentiate between those responsible for policy and deception regarding the war in Vietnam and the young, honorable men and women who served in the military.
The vandals who struck the Petithory family were confused. Oil, Christian crusades and Bush were not issues during the fight in Afghanistan.
... Sadly, the vandals' actions are illustrative of how we have squandered our opportunity to face terrorism with unified and coherent action. The right's neocons orchestrated a war with Iraq that has destroyed national consensus and they are culpable for politicizing the individual soldier by repeatedly sending the message that to criticize policy equates attacking the soldier -- an allegation that is simply not true.
... So here I stand, waiting for my daughter to return from her voluntary tour in the Middle East with the U.S. Coast Guard, wondering if some cretin will spit on her. I pray that soon our leaders on the left, right and center will find a way forward, build a new consensus and reverse our growing polarization.
But even if there are a few lefties out there who disagree with the view I just stated, I find it disgusting that they would commit such a disrespectful act as this -- vandalizing a memorial to an individual soldier. This behavior is on the same pathetic level as Fred Phelps' followers.