Green Room

A Badge of Dishonor

posted at 9:07 pm on November 16, 2010 by

Not everyone supports the war in Afghanistan. It’s annoying, considering that people who spoke out against the war in Iraq claimed that the reason was because we should be fighting in Afghanistan. Now we are fighting in Afghanistan, and people are talking about how we should pull out of there too. It’s not surprising, but it’s still annoying.

When you discover that some of the people saying we shouldn’t be there turn out to be family members of our troops, it’s infuriating. Imagine my surprise when I find out that family members of the Marines in my husband’s unit, currently deployed to Afghanistan, have been saying these things.

There are several online forums, mostly on Facebook, for unit family members to try to keep informed. They aren’t official unit pages, but family members can go on there to talk to each other and try to find support or keep themselves infomed. I’ve been noticing over the past few weeks that there have been a lot of comments about how we shouldn’t be there, that it’s a lost cause, and that we just need to bring them all home. I’ve noticed that, for some reason, it’s mainly moms saying these things, too. And while it’s a very small number of unit family members saying these things, I’ve quite frankly had enough.

My husband calls home and every now and then, he’s demoralized. He’s tired, he’s hungry, he’s dirty. Marines in his unit have been killed, and other Marines have been injured. He misses me, he misses being home, and he doesn’t want to do it anymore. I tell him, every time, that I support him and his mission. That I’m waiting for him. And I remind him of why he joined the Marine Corps, why he was willing to fight. I remind him of what he’s fighting for. It lifts his morale and it gives him his motivation back.

When their sons call and tell them the same thing that my husband tells me, I wonder what these women tell them. Do they get told about how we shouldn’t be in Afghanistan? Do they get told about how we should pull out? Do they get told that this war is not worth fighting? I can only hope they keep their opinions to themselves — or that their sons never see their comments on Facebook — because what they are basically telling their sons is that their sacrifice is meaningless in their eyes, that the deaths of their fellow Marines were meaningless. I can only imagine how demoralizing it must be to know that the family you have back home, the people you likely are fighting for, don’t support you and the sacrifice you’re making.

One mom mentioned that she had asked everyone she knew what they thought about the “debate”, about whether or not Afghanistan was a lost cause that we should just pull out of. She somehow was puzzled that none of the military men in her family would comment. Gee, I wonder why.

Do they not get it? You cannot support the troops without supporting their mission. It’s as simple as that. And of all people who don’t support our Marines and their mission, the family members of those Marines should be their most ardent supporters. It breaks my heart sometimes. As it’s been explained to me by my husband and various other Marines, they don’t think America hates them. They think that America just doesn’t care. I used to argue so passionately against that, but I’m starting to think I know where that attitude comes from.

I remember sitting in an algebra class in high school when the speakers crackled overhead telling all faculty to stop what they were doing and turn the televisions on in every classroom. A plane had flown into one of the World Trade Center buildings. We were stunned, but just assumed it was a mistake. Then we watched as another plane flew into the second tower, and it suddenly became clear. It became very clear. The next few days were emotional and terrifying. I spent much of 9-11 crying, like most of the students at my school. I cried in the days that followed, watching footage of people jumping to their death to escape the fiery inferno inside the towers. I cried hearing of the heroism of the passengers on Flight 93. I cried listening to the phone calls of passengers who knew they were going to die and wanted to tell their loved ones “I love you” one more time. I cried for the heroes who ran into the buildings while everyone else was running out. The country, as a whole, wept and grieved and vowed to never let this happen, ever again. I, along with many other Americans, knew that this meant war. Many people, my husband among them, reacted to the horror of 9-11 by joining the military. They wanted to fight for their country, to avenge the deaths of their countrymen, and to make sure that this never happened again.

Islamic extremists have been trying to kill us for more than 30 years now. During the Carter presidency, American embassy staff were held hostage in Iran. Marine Corps barracks in Beirut were bombed, killing almost 250 American servicemen. There was the first WTC bombing in 1993. In Somalia, also in 1993, 18 American troops were killed and the body of one was dragged through the streets while Somalians cheered. In 1996, an Air Force housing complex was bombed in Saudi Arabia. US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania were bombed. The USS Cole bombing happened in the year 2000. All of these attacks were perpetrated by violent Muslim extremists. 9-11 didn’t come out of nowhere. It was a long time coming. We ignored what we saw happening for over 30 years and pretended that if we just left them alone they would stop trying to kill us. It culminated in the worst attack on American soil ever on 9-11.

But now, with almost 10 years without any attacks on American soil, people are already calling for us to stop the fight. It’s not from lack of trying — from the shoe bomber to the underwear bomber to the Times Square bomber, they’ve kept on trying to kill us. Luckily, we’ve been able to thwart those attacks. You’d think it would be a reminder that this war isn’t over, and that it won’t be over until we eradicate the threat of Islamic terrorism. Did anyone really think we could do that in just a few years? It’s going to take time, it’s going to take a lot of sacrificing. We’ve got a 30 year mess to clean up. For some of us though, it’s a sacrifice worth making.

This is why my husband and I both support this mission. We choose to support it. I am five months pregnant and I don’t want my son to ever have to go through a 9-11. We want a better future than this for our children. We can stand up to this threat, finally, or we can ignore it like we did for the last 30 years and let our children deal with it. Which do you support? Me personally, I’d rather take care of this now, even with the sacrifice that requires, than pass the buck on to my children to carry and endure.

Others, I guess, actually were content to pass the buck onto their children, and now they find the sacrifice too great. The solution for them is apparently to keep hiding their heads in the sand and just let their grandchildren handle it 20 years from now. I find that unacceptable.

The worst part about this, though, is that people who should be supporting our troops more than anyone else apparently cannot. These are our brothers, our sons, our husbands, and while it’s annoying when ordinary Americans can’t support our troops, it’s unforgivable in my book for family members of our troops to not support them. If this is how they feel, then they need to keep their mouths shut and their opinions to themselves until this is all over and done with. Can you imagine how unmotivating it must be to know that your own family doesn’t support what you’re fighting for? I can’t think of anything more demoralizing. To me, this is a badge of dishonor. We have one Cindy Sheehan. We don’t need any more.

Follow Cassy on Twitter and read more of her work at and Hard Corps Wife.

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Well, let’s see. You could quote at them. Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. Then dig up that Nat’l Geo photo of the woman whose nose was cut off by the Taliban, or read them some of Phyllis Chesler’s accounts, and ask if they want to stop the b——s over there or over here? Because that’s the choice now.

njcommuter on November 17, 2010 at 3:16 AM

It’d got to be demoralizing, though, that we have a commander in chief who seems ambivalent about winning. Isn’t it? Instead of a choice between victory and defeat, the choice he offers is between continued war with no particular objective, or surrender, retreat, and inevitably re-fighting the war a few years later. If we had a commander-in-chief committed to victory, it’d probably be a lot easier for the families.

joe_doufu on November 17, 2010 at 1:25 PM

Thank you for such a great piece. And congratulations on your future son. Please send our best wishes to your husband and all those he is with and let them know that not all of us are as clueless as some.

Mad Mad Monica on November 17, 2010 at 4:45 PM

Meh…if they’ve got “skin in the game” they have earned their right to an opinion.

We’ve got a President who doesn’t seem to care if we win. Our rules of engagement often seem to sacrifice our servicemen to metigate PR damage. On top of that we’ve got our own gov’t stripping us of the rights that those men are fighting to preserve.

I was speaking with some of the men I served with on Monday. The question was posed “if you knew then what you know now about our gov’t would you still serve?” There were some long faces and uncomfortable silence. In the end most of us agreed we would do it again but all of us would have some reservations.

You have to support those in forward operating areas but it’s mistaken to think that you have to be all “rah rah” to accomplish that objective.

phadedjaded on November 17, 2010 at 8:12 PM

Dear Cassy,

The sincere depth of pain in your post affected me enough to print it and try to write a better reply.

I am very sorry to hear that relatives are speaking in ways that demoralize their fighting kin, aggravating their danger. Common sense dictates no excuse — give the soldiers unconditional moral support and the comfort of knowing family is holding things together on the home front.

There may be some comfort in an explanation (not justification) for the seeming failure of common sense. The families sense some distressing truth, for which they have no proper reference to express in words. The passage of time is forming it and bringing it to the surface. They have only the memes of liberal culture, and they latch onto the toxic substitute.

For many decades, the left worked to poison the culture, discredit absolutes, sow hatred of authority and nation, and confuse kids with ignorance, contradictions, and destructive behaviors. Their evil work has taken its toll. Such destructive people are dominant in politics, education, and entertainment. A loud fraction of the population now consists of social and political psychotics, who stress and confuse others.

Parallel to this is the problem of leadership and the military. Since Vietnam, leaders discarded the primary purpose, instead choosing half-measures, political expedience, and social experiments — careless of the cost in blood and treasure. It is to their eternal shame that they chose these things over clarity of purpose, victory, and minimal sacrifice of fighting men. The one notable exception is Reagan.

This brings me to the complicated issue of George W. Bush. He is popular with the military and he deserves to be, giving great efforts and time to boost morale by putting himself in their midst and facing them, showing worthiness to command. He was terrific in the aftermath of 9/11.

Unfortunately, his thinking was contaminated by liberalism, the great evil of our time. The die was cast when he called Islam a religion of peace. It is not.

A society or civilization is a body of many cells — us. Like the human body, it must destroy hostile organisms that attack it. Soldiers and police are the defense cells that protect civilization. What happens when disease organisms discover a body acting “nice?” This is the trap of George W. Bush — the auto-immune attack of the ROEs, permitting continued invasion at home, and using soldiers for purposes other than military victory over enemies. These problems are extended by current leadership.

Of all people, the spouses and families of soldiers cannot be motivated by the malice of the left. They sense a great wrong and fear for the lives of their loved ones. It is fracturing their optimism and spilling onto the morale of the men.

The voices of millions are drowned-out by the hateful screeching of the left. The soldiers must know we are still here and we support them. Most of all, we support victory and survival for our nation and the warriors who protect us.

The soldiers must never believe that their sacrifices are meaningless or for a lost cause, because that is a lie.

They offer the single cells of their lives to fight the good fight and save a body worth saving and curing of its own disease. What they are doing is love, of the most profound sort. It is the fulfillment of the survival instinct of the male for his buddies, his family, and his tribe — America.

God bless them all.

Feedie on November 18, 2010 at 6:13 AM

Do they not get it? You cannot support the troops without supporting their mission. It’s as simple as that.

Not so simple. As it happens, I support our efforts in Afghanistan and–especially as a veteran myself–naturally, obviously support our troops. But what if, say, President Obama determined to militarily support the reinstatement of socialist Manuel Zelaya as President of Honduras, who was removed from office last year for attempting to circumvent the Honduran constitution. This isn’t a far-fetched, impossible world scenario: the Obama Administration did support Zelaya and went so far as to align itself on that issue with those other luminaries of freedom and democracy, Fidel Castro and Hugo Chavez. So what if Obama had decided to return Zelaya to power by force? Our troops, bound by oath and duty, would execute the orders of their Commander-in-Chief, however much service members or the American public disagreed with that decision and those orders.

In such an instance, would it then be possible to support our troops while not supporting the mission? The answer is, of course, yes. I would be disgusted by such a mission and would probably take to the streets in protest of it, but it would be a protest against an administration capable of pursuing such a policy. Once the decision was made and the military was committed, I would hope such an awful campaign for such an equally awful objective would be quick and successful, with minimal bloodshed and grief. I would hate the mission and speak out against it, but I would still support the troops.

troyriser_gopftw on November 18, 2010 at 12:23 PM