FROM SOLDIER TO SOLDIER

One of the now hundreds of emails I have been forwarding to Fishback. More follow:

Thank you very much for having the moral courage to come forward. As a West Point grad and patriotic American, I was very reluctant to believe the abuse allegations that came out of Iraq and Afghanistan. Like many, I tended to believe Abu Grahib was a more or less isolated incident–surely, I thought, the powers-that-be wouldn’t allow such things to happen on a wider scale. Furthermore, given all the classes we had on military ethics and leadership, I was sure my classmates and co-alums would not permit troops to engage in torture or coercion.

When I was a cadet–when you were, too–Walter Cronkite was given the Thayer Award, and I never forget what he told the Corps: “The public has a right to know what the government does in its name.” And who could forget the neverending admonishment from officers and fellow cadets, that we were to choose the harder right over the easier wrong? So I was very disappointed to learn that this nation’s leadership has in fact allowed such things to happen in yet another short-sighted attempt to cut corners on the road to a noble end.

But I was very heartened indeed to learn that a fellow West Pointer (and fellow A-2 Spartan!) had the courage to stand up and say no. Your letter to Senator McCain was an eloquent expression of what many (and, I firmly believe, most) Americans believe: we are not to judge our actions against the reprehensible standards of the thugs and barbarians we are fighting, but against the lofty principles espoused in our Declaration of Independence and Constitution. We took oaths to that Constitution at West Point, oaths to support the law itself, not individuals or leaders or political factions. May God Bless you for having the courage to truly live by that oath. I will keep you in my prayers.

Says it all, doesn’t it?

FROM A SOLDIER’S DAD: “Thanks–many thanks–for your integrity and courage. I support you and pray for you, and for this country, which is simply misguided in the radical turn it has taken in the treatment of prisoners. In times past, torture and abuse simply would not have been tolerated by the American people, the nation’s leaders and the nation’s military. Thank God we still have people like yourself who are willing to stand up and do and say the right thing. Again, Ian, I pray that God will keep you lifted up and strong in this. You are being a moral voice and a true prophet, and being a prophet is dangerous stuff. But keep taking courage in knowing that you are right and that many people still understand and support where you’re coming from in this. Thanks again and grace and peace – from a father of a new U.S. Marine Corps recruit, who heads to boot camp Nov. 14.”

FROM A NAVY MAN: “If you’ll forgive a slightly lighter start from me — my father was a Navy man, an Annapolis grad, and so I’ve always been one to support the chants of ‘Army sucks!’ in the more football-directed end of things, I admit.
But what our country is involved in now is no game, and there is of course no question he would support me in my writing to you now that I admire your decency, your action and the strength of your beliefs, beyond all words.
Your letter to Senator McCain made me once again proud to be an American, sir — I have never not been, despite my many thoughts and concerns about this country over time, but it is the recognition in the strength and belief of others in those ideals that we should always strive for that, I hope, further bolsters my own — to know that there are those who truly set an example.”

FROM A SOLDIER’S MOM: “I have a son who is a helicopter pilot currently in Iraq. Thank you for what you have done. What you are doing is of immeasurable benefit for all military personnel, as well for all Americans. I wish there was something more I could do to help. Be well.”

FROM A CHRISTIAN: “On one level you are a present-day Alfred Dreyfus or Billy Mitchell, but on a deeper level you are refusing to take part in the Scourging of Jesus of Nazareth. May the Creator of all continue to fortify you.”

FROM A VETERAN: “I am a veteran and a very proud American. One of the reasons I am proud is because of brave, honest, good people like you. You are in my thoughts, and I wish you the very best.”

A reminder: email supportfishback@aol.com and I will forward the emails so that he gets a chance to read them personally.

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