Supporting the troops?
NY Times, April 8, 2003, To the Editor:

When I was a Marine infantryman in Vietnam, support meant a lot to me and my fellow grunts, but it didn't mean what most people thought. We wanted to come home alive. When we got wounded or sick, we wanted good medical help. We wanted rations that we could trade with the Vietnamese for real food.

We saw war protesters as allies, certain to save lives and bring us home sooner if they succeeded. Those who advocated winning at any cost would only get more of us killed.

The worst kind of support came from those who voted for the war and against adequate medical care, rehabilitation and education for veterans. While patriotic talk is cheap, veterans prefer to survive and enjoy the tangible benefits they earned.

We didn't join the Marines for love of country. We joined to get out of the house, out of the city, off the farm, into a job, and because we were 18 and believed we were indestructible. Let's start treating our soldiers not as icons but as real people.

Siasconset, Mass.
April 3, 2003

refusing to kill