By Lonna Gooden VanHorn
I wrote this just as the war was beginning in March of 2003. A version of it appeared on the VAIW website in Ausgust of 2003. Veterans Day seems a good time to republish it.
Please note: It is not my desire that anyone kill anyone. But, our leaders have put our soldiers in a frightening and dangerous position that makes killing inevitable. Many will not be able to live with the fact that they were made to kill, particularly in a war based on lies, after they come home.
Letter to an American Foot Soldier
You enlisted probably thinking you would never have to go to war, and maybe when you got your orders you were even a little excited about going where the action is. But now you are there. You are a foot soldier. You see what is happening. You are not one of the lucky ones who pushes a button to cause death he never sees. You see the people and they are just people, like people everywhere else in the world. You like them. They are not the devil. You wonder what danger they are to us. But, you are there to kill them, or their fathers, brothers, or sons to liberate them from a monster. The monster is not evident. The destruction and misery caused by American bombs and U. N. (American) sanctions is.
You were told you would be their savior, but you see their fear and hatred toward America and toward you grow as death and destruction rains down on their country. You see the terror and confusion of the children. You see women and children dead and dying.
The Iraqi guerillas are desperate. And now you see the monster. You wonder how you would feel if it was your town or country being destroyed. You wonder if you would do what they are doing. Your leaders told you it would be a cakewalk; that the Iraqis wanted you to come.
You begin to be angry.
Some begin to enjoy it, as did John Malcolm.
You see what had been the welcome in a child's eyes turn to fear, and then hate. To him you have become the devil. You wonder, will he be a terrorist ten years from now? But kill, Soldier, you have your orders. It will get easier.
At home and across the world you know that people are protesting against the war, and, you think they are protesting against you. But we are not! We are protesting against the lies you have been told that made you go over there to risk your own life. We are angry that you might die or be injured, or that you may see your friends killed and injured. We are angry that our government will make you kill people who may be a threat to you, simply because you are there, but who were not a threat to the United States.
They hated Saddam Hussein, now they hate Americans more. Many of the people protesting were soldiers once who felt in their wars the way you feel now, and who know there has to be a better way.
I want you to kill, when you have to, Soldier. You are not my child, but I weep for you. I want you to kill with all the ruthlessness and skill our military has taught you, because I want you to come home. You are there now, it has started. I see no other way. Your leaders will never back out. Not as long as there is another dollar to be made in Iraq for Halliburton. Not as long as it is not their children who are at risk. Kill or be killed. Do whatever you have to do to keep yourself safe. So kill, Soldier, and watch the brutality grow. Your heart will soon stop bleeding. Get it over with quickly. Kill in this war that is making America hated around the world. If you die, you will not be the first soldier sacrificed on the altar of a leaders arrogance. If you come home, you will find a way to live with it. The Veterans Administration has psychiatrists to help you if the cuts they will be forced to take allows enough psychiatrists to be retained.
I hope you do not come home with another version of Gulf War Syndrome. I hope you come home proud of your service.
So kill, and know it is not your fault. It is the fault of the administration, intent not only on world control, but on world subjugation.
The cable television news channels who magnified the threat and glorified the idea of a war they knew would up their ratings.
The Congress who did not debate.
The Pentagon, who wanted to try out their shiny new toys.
The reporters who did not question.