In a couple of days, my wife and I will drive to the beach at Emerald Isle for a 10-day vacation. On the way, we will pass through Jacksonville. As we prepare for the trip, I've updated something I wrote last year at this time.
According to MapQuest, the distance between Jacksonville, North Carolina, and Chapel Hill is only 145 miles. It seems more like a million. In Jacksonville, United States Marines rule the flat landscape like a swarm of killer bees. Hard men with tight haircuts, spreading democracy through brute force. Here in the southern part of heaven, Grandmas and Greens run the hilly streets, worried more about the stock market and stormwater.
The entrance to Camp Lejeune spans a manicured mile of military might, camouflaged utilities and machine guns guarding the gate. McCorkle Place at UNC offers a Carolina-blue welcome to people armed with laptops. Silent Sam alone stands watch.
To buy a car in Jacksonville, you go to Marine Motors and Semper Fi Sales. In Chapel Hill, it’s Crown and Performance.
University communities serve by seeking knowledge. Military communities by patriotic duty. One depends on critical thinking. The other on allegiance. Neither is sufficient. American flags and yellow ribbons adorn the streets of Jacksonville today, while young Marine families scrape and scramble to make ends meet. With too many parents coming home in coffins, the grim scent of grief carries heavy on the wind. A million miles away in Chapel Hill, words fail to make sense of their deaths.
But another breeze is stirring on the coastal plain this summer, fanning reluctant flames of doubt. About the war. About the commander in chief. Marines may be fighters, but they are not chumps. They come angry to the truth: their friends in Iraq are dying for a lie.
Whatever their misgivings, Marines will do what they are told. They are not like us civilians. They are not allowed to question. I was a Naval Officer stationed at Camp Lejeune for more than two years. I know Marines will do their jobs. No matter how insane the war. No matter how lost the cause. To serve is their sworn duty.
In the face of such resolve, how should America honor its warfighters? We should bring them home alive.
It is long past time for Geeks, Greens and Grandmas alike to do what Marines are not permitted to do for themselves. Speak out publicly against the war in Iraq. Call on George Bush to bring the troops home now.
Put these words in your emails to friends. In your letters to editors and elected officials. On the bumpers of your car. Bring them home. Now.
Do not buy the lie that our professional military supports the president. They are simply doing what they have been trained to do. Do not buy the lie that we can win this unholy war. It was lost before it began, every death the bitter fruit of Bush’s poisoned tree. There were no WMDs. There were no links to the 9/11 terrorists. It was all a lie.
That lie has now cost more than 2000 American lives and countless innocent Iraqi lives. That lie has cost nearly a trillion dollars. There is only one sane choice. End it now.
It’s easy to point to differences between Jacksonville and Chapel Hill. They have Freedom Furniture. We have Ecko. They have Hooters. We have Top of the Hill. But we also share some sacred ground. We all want America’s military men and women home safe.
The people of Chapel Hill have the power to do something a United States Marine can never do. We can raise our voices in public protest. Join the growing chorus of people working to restore America’s honor. Not one more Marine should die so George W. Bush can play wartime president. Bring the troops home. Now.
There are plenty of reasons to want to remove Charles Taylor, Robin Hayes, Elizabeth Dole and Richard Burr from office, but one reason matters most to me: they have not held George Bush accountable for the lies and the incompetence that spawned his war in Iraq. They wring their manicured hands and stage their photo-ops while joking and laughing and sending young men and women to their deaths for no reason. None of them served. None of them deserve one ounce of respect.