The present debate, regarding Iraq, exemplifies both strengths and problems of a Democratic society. Having enlisted in the aftermath of Vietnam, I know what a debilitating effect civilian disapproval can have on the morale of our armed forces. Conversely, having served during Desert Storm, I know the almost euphoric feeling it can give the military to know there is near-unanimous support for your actions.
Freedom of speech is one of America's foremost assets, and there will never be complete unanimity for any military action. Indeed, before anyone around here jumps on board the war train too enthusiastically, I wish they could visit Fort Gordon and gaze into the faces of the young (and some not-so-young) men and women stationed there.
They, and others like them, are the ones we'll be asking to put their lives on the line. Or perhaps you could stroll past the Riverwalk memorial to local military heroes. Read the citations that memorialize the gallantry of the Central Savannah River Area's finest warriors, and pause to note how many times you see where a medal was "posthumously awarded." We owe it to those brave men and women at Fort Gordon and elsewhere to ensure war is a last resort.
Taking all of the above into consideration, it still seems likely the time is fast approaching when we will take action against Iraq. When that happens, America will stop debating the pros and cons and fully support our military.
The overwhelming majority of Americans won't be asked to risk our lives. To those who are called upon to do so, we salute you. You are the very heart and soul of a great nation.
Jim Murrah, Martinez, Ga.
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