What follows is the letter from a father of a Marine who fell in the opening days of the war in Iraq. During an interview five years ago after his son had died, I asked the father what he wanted to say directly to the president and he wrote this letter. His response is full of both anger and hurt. -- JM
A Letter to the President from the Father of a Fallen Marine
Tonopah, NV. Nov. 30, 2003
March 23. That day will be forever a day for my family and I to remember, for two reasons. One, March 23, 2001, our adopted son, a boy who we raised through high school, who called me "dad", and my wife, "mom", was commissioned a second lieutenant in the U.S. Marine Corps. He excelled at everything he did, from being a star athlete in football and basketball, an honor roll student, to being a husband and father, and a son. The Marine Corps recognized that he was one of the best of the best, saw what a good person and leader he was, and did something about it.
He was accepted into the Officer Candidate Program, where he excelled again, completing a four year degree at Oregon State University, and was commissioned a second lieutenant, as I say, on March 23, 2001. It was one of the proudest moments of his life, and for his wife, Chelle, and infant daughter, Taylor, also. We were fortunate to be there to see it, as we never missed the important things in his life. His ball games, graduation from high school, graduation from boot camp as the number one recruit in his company, his wedding to Chelle, and his commissioning. These bright spots in his life, and our life, and the thousands of other memories, are all we have left now. You see, your decision to invade Iraq took what was to be, the future, away from him, and his family.
The second reason March 23 will remain so vivid to us, is that is the day our son was killed in Iraq, two years to the day he after was commissioned a second lieutenant. 1st Lt. Frederick E. Pokorney, Jr., USMC, died a horrible death that day in the desert in Iraq, along with many others, and we will always wonder why, Mr. President. Sure, we have listened to the "reasons" for this war, and have also wondered why you rushed into this so poorly prepared, against all reason, and even against the advice of your own father, who sent troops there before you.
The spin you put on this invasion has caught up with you, or should I use the correct word, "deception?" The lie about Saddam being involved with Sept. 11, the weapons of mass destruction, not following the U.N. accords, et al. But they never held water, and now over 400 [total at time of writing] dead soldiers have come home, leaving nothing but memories for their families. Can you ever really convince people that Saddam was an immediate threat to the U.S. when he was basically the Mayor of Baghdad since the 1991 war in the Persian Gulf? Our air power made it impossible for him to be anything else. He murdered his own people. That is the next reason, right? When your father sold out the Shiites in 1991, he, and you, knew the bloodbath was coming, and it did. Millions were killed in Rwanda, and we never lifted a finger, so what is the real reason for this invasion?
I see. We needed to free the Iraqi people, and rebuild Iraq. Why did you use such destruction in the first place, when there was little resistance? I am forgetting, the big corporations, such as Halliburton, Cheney's people, who helped you get elected, got multi-billion dollar contracts with no bid process to rebuild Iraq, and you stripped cost-control measures so they can exceed the money allotted. Is this the real reason you have used and abused our military, in the name of patriotism and the War on Terror?
You used our own anxieties and fears from Sept. 11 to convince people to support this invasion, but not everyone believed you. I am a Vietnam combat veteran, and we remember the lies and deceptions used then as 60,000 of us died in the service of our country while billions in profit from the war was made. We became the scapegoats of a war we won every day, but were never allowed to finish, but we served proudly, leaving politics to others as the body count mounted.
I cry inside every time the news comes on, knowing they will say more U.S. soldiers are dead, and why? You allowed over 400 to die before you would use the weapons that would stop the daily random killing of our troops. Why? An elitist such as yourself was protected from duty in Vietnam by your father, so someone had to go in your place. Maybe this is one reason you have no idea how many lives you have ruined forever, because you and your family were always protected from serving and dying.
More questions, Mr. President. Why are you so concerned, if that is the right word, about Iraq having power and schools, and medical care, to the tune of 166 billion dollars, when most people can't afford medicine, lose power, and have substandard schools in America? Is it a matter of oil, or is that the easy answer? Are you going to appease the crowd that says, "Do something, don't sit around", when it comes to fighting terror, by sending our troops into ill-thought out invasions where they were not properly trained or equipped for this fight? How many dead will it take before you admit this invasion hasn't slowed down terrorists, or that your stupid comment, "Bring 'em on," encouraged our enemies to do just that?
How many dead will appease those who want you to "do something," even if it is wrong?
I have many more thoughts, but what I have to say will not change what you do. Many more will die, and maybe someday you will tell the truth about why they died. We want to know. Chelle Pokorney wants to know, and I know Taylor Pokorney will want to know someday. Our son, the best person I have ever known, is gone, a hero who gave his life for his country, and many more followed him to Arlington. You got your war, Mr. President, against all advice, and the cost in American lives mounts every day with nothing changing over there, except more grieving families here. Can you live with that, Mr. President? I hope not.
Follow James Moore on Twitter: www.twitter.com/moorethink