from the diaries by haystack
I have missed interacting with my Redstate family for the last 6-8 months. Rest assured, I have been reading Redstate as often as I can and think of all of you often.
For the last 6 years of my life, each Memorial Day has had new and powerful meanings to me. This year, tragically, is no different. On Easter Sunday, our battalion lost a Soldier that I knew rather well, someone who had been with my unit for longer than I have. He was not the first comrade in arms I have seen lost, but the first one that I had known for so long.
SGT Kurt Kruize - Father, Husband, Son, Citizen Soldier
11 June 1974 - 04 April 2010
SGT Kruize lost his life in a motor pool accident while he worked late hours to ensure that Soldiers going outside the wire the next day had reliable vehicles for transportation and protection. His sacrifice was no less than that of any other man or woman who has given their lives in the 230+ years that men have taken up arms in defense of Liberty and the Constitution of the United States of America. He left behind a wife and four children.
Much has been discussed recently about American Exceptionalism, maybe a confusing concept for some, a difficult ideal to explain for others - SGT Kurt Kruize's life and sacrifice together display the definition of American Exceptionalism in flesh and blood.
This Memorial Day is mixed - even as I sit in silent contemplation of SGT Kruize's loss, I see more hope this year. Over 4000 American service members have given the ultimate sacrifice here in Iraq. This is my second trip here, and the differences are clear. Our interaction with the Iraqi Army is continuous and an inseperable part of how we do business now. Casualties are way down. Three years ago, virtually every convoy suffered an IED attack, now most convoys see no action.
Our Iraqi interpreters live on post with us in the same housing we live in. Speaking with them gives me the greatest satisfaction about the job we have done here. I spoke at length one night with one man and learned about his hopes and dreams. Under Saddam's regime, he had no prospects because he was not from the right part of Iraq. When Saddam was in charge, only those who came from Saddam's home town of Tikrit or were somehow related or connected to Saddam's family or the Ba'ath party could succeed. Now, this man makes decent money as an interpreter, and he is saving it in hopes of buying a small shop in the future. Does that not sound like our American dream?
His main concern is the corruption in the governement (as if that waqn't nearly universal to the human condition). He views our American Democracy in almost mythical terms, as if as Americans we have some magical formula that allows us to rule ourselves. He does, however, have hope for a future of self-rule for his country. He also now has the desire and the will to do what he can to make it happen.
Our sacrifices are now paying dividends. Our Commander-in-Chief for the majority of this conflict stood his ground and fought on when the going was tough. As a result, those of us in uniform did the same. Because of this, Iraq is free, terrorism has one less safe haven, and the Middle East is beginning to see what true freedom is.
On Monday, Americans will go to the lake or the park, they will eat hot dogs, bratwurst and hamburgers. There will be parades, fireworks and concerts. Please enjoy this Holiday which marks the beginning of summer. Just remember that my fellow Soldiers and I will spend the day running convoys, kicking down doors, training Iraqis and doing whatever else Uncle Sam requires of us in this war zone. As our Battalion Commander reiterated recently after an Explosively Formed Projectile attack missed killing two of our Soldiers by less than a second, "The enemy is still out there and he still gets a vote on what happens." We will gladly do our part for the country we all dearly love, and all that we ask is that you recognize our fallen, rejoice in the triumphs those sacrifices have bought, and never forget those of us still fighting.
SGT Kruize's unit, the Forward Support Company, 367th Engineer Battalion's motto - "First Up, Last Down."
God Bless America