No one made me the official voice of the veteran community. When I speak, I speak entirely for myself though I can often tap into a similar vein of thought as my fellow veterans. So if this article voices any similar thoughts you may have on the matter, feel free to share it with your own caveats. If you just read the title of this article and are thrown into a fit of rage because it disparages an action of Donald Julius Trump, then Bea Arthur wants her panties back and you do as you please. As for me and my household, please Mr. President, do not pardon American war criminals this Memorial Day. It is rumored, perhaps just that, the President will pardon three convicted American war criminals on Memorial Day. Whether rumor or fact, I want the President to read this first. I know any who take the oath and wear the uniform are some of the finest men and women to walk the earth. Unfortunately, I also know some of the worst of humanity have done so as well. Every unit had them and we could all name them by name. If you can’t name the piece of trash humanity in your unit then, well, it just might have been you. Please Mr. President, don’t pardon American war criminals this Memorial Day or any other.
The Cold Hard Truth about Veterans
If you told me that a nonprofit bought every house on my street and was going to give them away free to veterans of combat, I’d reply with a hearty and enthusiastic, “Which ones?” Men like Medal of Honor recipient Kyle Carpenter and I’d mow his yard for him every week. Men like my fellow war buddy below with whom I am enjoying a cigar and I’d say, “Leroy Jenkins!” Though I suspect our livers would pay a terrible price for being neighbors.
Perhaps then, my new neighbor would even be Iraqi war veterans and combat infantry badge recipients Steven Green or Brian Howard. To which I would reply, why are you sending two Army soldiers who raped a 14-year-old Iraqi girl and murdered her family to live on my street? The dirty little secret is that we throw around love for our fellow veterans knowing full well among us all are people we perhaps wouldn’t piss on if they were on fire. You know who they are for your unit and you can name them by name. Call me a liar, my fellow veterans, I dare you.
No Specific Case
Now, I have intentionally not mentioned any specific case considered for pardon as the media has done that itself. I don’t know the specifics of the cases and it may be entirely possible that there is miscarriage of justice among them. As for you, go ahead and admit that you don’t either. You read an article on Fox News and you didn’t sit through months of evidence and testimony.
I can testify that war is fascinatingly ambiguous on right and wrong, and that discernment is often made in seconds. For that, grace from the American people should abound as more veterans than you would like to consider still suffer a lifetime of duress from having made the wrong call. Then there are others. These others, who have risen to the level of war crimes should be weighed with another scale. Here me when I tell you that America should embrace the best that comes from sending your fellow humans to war. However, you should equally shun the worst. This is not some sad diatribe of second guessing our military. This is the cold hard reality of experiencing it. You know the guys in your unit. Go ahead and name them.
I was a fairly obscure NCO when I deployed to Iraq in 2003, though one of the more senior in the unit. From harmless shenanigans to gut wrenching decisions, I had to swallow a lot in Iraq. Simply put, you cannot conduct a war with a rifle in one hand and Robert’s Rules of Order for parliamentary procedure in the other. War is messy and while I will forever laud the discipline of my beloved Marine Corps, humans are going to human and its messy. War is messy. I have no doubt that the units and commands that saw fit to prosecute war crimes against their fellow brother did not do so easily. If they did, shame on them. If they were pushed to the edge by blatant human atrocity, then I commend them for it.
Consider the Consequence
World War 2 is often the standard set for what it takes to win the war. Perhaps do a little research into convicted war and civil crimes committed by Americans during the war. It happened, because as much as we hate to admit it we Americans are plagued with the curse of humanity as well. It takes a great deal for a fellow veteran to turn in another veteran for crimes against humanity. I know this is true, because we already tolerate a lot as war justifiably demands of us. No one sends Joker to jail for being hardcore. Yet, some men never deserve to walk the streets again. Who is who can be up to you, but don’t assume because they wore a uniform they are neighborly.
To pardon multiple war criminals on a day reserved for the fallen is not only to politicize our war, but to say that it doesn’t matter who we killed. I submit to you today, that the rape and murder of an 14-year-old Iraqi girl matters. I submit to you today, that the American moral high ground matters. There is a reason German troops in WW2 headed west to surrender to us rather than east to the Russians. I submit to you today, that some of the same persons who will eat free on veteran’s day at your local Applebees this November is not someone you want as a neighbor. I love my fellow veterans. I really do. I just know too many of us to give us a free pass on ethics and justice. Please Mr. President, don’t pardon American war criminals this Memorial Day.