I was able to attend the Gathering of Eagles – Salt Lake City rally. About 40-50 others attended (all were war veterans and former military).
It was great. Three veterans spoke (two vets of several wars including Iraqi Freedom and one was a Vietnam veteran). Here are some highlights:
- The Vietnam vet asked the combat infantry vets what was the greatest cause of casualties. All responded, “complacency”. He likened that to the current PR war stating that the silent majority is too complacent and allowing the leftists get away with their disingenuous rhetoric. It is time to start standing up for the troops and the war effort. Whether it is finally piping up and saying you support the war when anti-war folks at work etc engage you in conversation (rather than just nodding and walking away) or finally countering some of the rhetoric and outrageous statements they make or attending a pro-troop/freedom rally…
- Iraqi war vets noted that while the soldiers moral is high and they understand that the majority do want victory, they are still affected by the anti-war people and feel they are not supported due to the fact that servicemen/women overwhelmingly do support their mission.
- They mentioned that they were involved in community efforts. Schools have been built (noted that girls, in particular, have much more opportunity now), roads constructed/improved, infrastructure (electricity in areas that never had it, sewer lines rather than holes etc) is also being built and improved. Iraq is a far different place from the one portrayed in the main stream media. They are very optimistic about Iraq’s future if allowed to complete their mission. They expressed frustration about the old media entirely ignoring the positive stories and improvements that have been made, feeling that the media tends to pander to the leftist crowd. The old media folks stay in the ‘green zones’ making only rare, brief visits to FOBs and relying on ‘stringers’ to bring reports. They do not feel the old media is producing an accurate picture of Iraq. [note: every Iraq war vet I’ve talked to has expressed the same frustration; also, several stringers CBS/AP/CNN used were found to have ties to insurgent groups see here and here, among others].
- Things are tough in the field. There are long days and little sleep. Bombs designed to fly a few times (prior to being dropped) are being constantly refurbished in order to maintain their reliability (they are trying to avoid duds, and they do occur). The same, obviously, applies to other equipment. Despite the challenges and long hours, they feel the mission is worth it.
- The Vietnam vets feel Jane Fonda’s apology a few years ago, was insincere given her recent actions involving another difficult war. [Vietnam Vets call her “Hanoi Jane”, Iraq Vets are calling her “Jihad Jane”]
I guess that about sums it up. It is time to stop ‘hiding your light under a bush’ and stand for your convictions, even if it simply means saying “I support the troops and their mission, I believe in victory“.
Moral of the story: Complacency kills.
UPDATE: I forgot to mention that one of the vets had recently served at Walter Reed. He said, due to increased demands on hospital facilities, some maintenance was delayed and did need to be addressed. However, he noted, Walter Reed remains a top notch facility providing excellent care.