About 18 months ago and in response to a piece, "Why It's Wrong to Equate Military Service With Heroism," which discussed the technical, logical and semantic reasons why our fighting men and women should not be collectively called "heroes," I wrote a piece claiming "Our Military: Yes, They Are All Heroes."
I started the article as follows:
I am one of those misguided, clueless people who, when writing about our military men and women slugging it out in Iraq and Afghanistan, engaged in combat, just trying not to get killed or maimed by an IED, or just driving a truck with supplies across the desert, instinctively and invariably refers to them as "heroes."
Then I went on to explain why I felt that way.
Little did I know the overwhelmingly negative reaction and feedback I would get in response to my assertion, in effect -- and in no uncertain terms -- affirming how misguided and clueless I am.
While a few of the writers argued -- perhaps validly so -- that by calling all soldiers "heroes" we diminish the value of that accolade when used to honor the "real heroes," and while I was not too surprised by the anti-war sentiments, I was truly shocked by the vastly negative -- at times shamefully offensive -- commentary about our troops.
Of course, "massacres" and "atrocities" committed by our troops in Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan were brought up in order to discredit my claim. Some went even further and used such misdeeds to paint all our troops with the same broad brush.
This week, we see, hear and read about the disgusting, inexcusable act committed by a handful of Marines in Afghanistan.
And, again, one can see the reactions going off in some predictable directions.
Some condemn the act, but then attempt to use the broad-brush tactic to indict the entire Marine Corps, our entire military.
Those "some" may well include the same people who criticized me for calling all our troops "heroes."
You know what, I would rather inaccurately call all our troops heroes because of a few real heroes than call all our troops criminals because of a few real bad apples.
Some disapprove of the act but then attempt to list possible "extenuating circumstances," even justifications for such a heinous act.
You know what, having watched the video where the Marines are in absolutely no stress or combat situation, where they are joking and laughing about it, I cannot find any extenuating circumstance nor rhyme or reason for such a despicable act.
Some object to the act, but then mention some of the perhaps even more reprehensible and inhumane acts perpetrated by the enemy, by the terrorists.
You know what, two wrongs do not make a right, and even more important, when we sink to the level of our enemies, we risk becoming that which we are fighting against.
I will not even dignify those who "celebrate" this act by commenting on such.
I honestly believe that we Americans can and must start calling what is wrong by its name, without euphemisms, without excuses -- no ifs ands or buts about it.
In this case, by unequivocally condemning such an act, we not only do the right thing but we also show real honor and respect for the more than 200,000 proud Marines whose motto and way of life will always be Semper Fidelis.