Third Place Writing – Editorials


Questioning government is nation’s duty

Originally published in Red and Black

Editor’s Note: The following is an open letter to Kevin Giesler in response to his column (“Protesting the war is unpatriotic”), which appeared Tuesday in The Red & Black.

You are dead wrong.

In your column, you wrote, “Whoever says you can support the soldiers and not the war is wrong.”

As an Iraq war veteran, I must tell you, Mr. Giesler, Americans can and must support the soldiers, not the war.

In January 2003, as my troopship crossed the Atlantic bound for Kuwait, I wondered why we were going to war.

In February, as my fellow Marines and I got ready to attack Iraq without TV, phone or Internet to keep us informed, I still wondered.

In March, during our invasion of Iraq, as rockets flew over our heads and we moved forward laden with rifles and hand grenades, I really wondered.

You wrote, Mr. Giesler, that dissent is patriotic only if it’s about high taxes or unjust laws but not about war. You wrote that people who think our troops are killing innocent people are not supporting the troops.

In Iraq, I followed orders.

As a Marine, regardless of my questions, it was my duty to follow lawful orders.

Now, it is my duty and the duty of all Americans to be engaged and question our leaders.

I support the troops. Many are close friends of mine with whom I have served.

I do not support the war because it is being managed by civilians, not military leaders, and because our troops are not being given what they need to safely and successfully accomplish their mission.

And that, Mr. Giesler, is how I and all Americans clearly can distinguish between our policy makers and those who are ordered to implement that policy.

If those against the war do not protest, then who will question our government? If voices of dissent are not raised, then why do we have a democracy at all?

Don’t forget, Mr. Giesler, that soldiers, sailors and Marines are human beings, and human beings make mistakes, especially in war.

If any of our troops have killed innocent people then the public should know about it, and the guilty should be held accountable.

If some people in the American public think these killings are taking place, then they have every right to protest and have their questions answered.

We, as a people, should be able to scrutinize the actions of our military. It exists solely for our protection.

Citizens, out of fear, have been silent far too long.

After Sept. 11, 2001, the American public seemed to want quick solutions and vengeance, and to get it, it was willing to not ask too many questions as long as someone paid the price.

When people in power wage a war how they see fit without being questioned, only bad things can happen.

Is terrorism a threat?


Do we need to hand over our rights and keep our collective mouths shut to win a war on terror?


What do we — you, I and our classmates — need to do?

We need to exercise our rights and demand answers and results from our elected officials.

We need to truly support our troops by requiring our government to properly fund and equip them and not send them into battle without sufficient numbers to get the job done.

We need to understand that we cannot fight two simultaneous wars and expect no sacrifice from the majority of the American public.

As time went by during my tour in Iraq, I saw good and bad things happen.

When we received mail and heard of anti-war protests back home, some of the Marines said the protesters were stupid.

I realized the fact that people could protest at all was reason enough for me to protect them.

Many who protest the war want the best for our troops, Mr. Giesler — they want them to live.

I can’t think of anything more patriotic.