Saturday, June 02, 2007

Clarification

I see that Doonesbury linked me. I can't even check my email now. My Inbox is fifty deep with new messages.

I just want to take a moment and state how grateful I am for all the responses I've received. I know I've been busy, and I'm sorry for that. I'm surprised that so many people seem to want to read me. It's overwhelming, the amount of support I've received, and so I want everyone to know just how much your encouragement means.

However, I feel I need to post a clarification. It seems that people--on both sides of the fence--may have come here seeking something they may not find. Amidst all the comments showing support, it seems I have received a few messages from unwelcome types.

Given my politics and spirituality, I can't say I'm surprised--I'm not exactly Captain America. However, I do feel compelled to respond to some of the ad-hominem attacks leveled against me in recent days. So what follows is a reminder for readers all over America. Listen, and listen well.

I am a soldier. I am a soldier in arguably the finest Army in the world, and I am proud of that. However, I must admit I'm frustrated with the course of things lately. Hence my writing. My morale as of late is low, but I will be damned if I tolerate anyone who dares to say that I am unfit to serve, or dares to question my honor. To those who would issue such vitriol and threats, I say this:

You are not fit to lick our boots, try as hard as you might to do so.

I may be frustrated at times by my fellows, but they are good and worthy human beings, for the most part, and contrary to popular belief, many of them--volunteers, as so many of you point out--do not support this war. There's a difference between disagreeing with the higher-ups and refusing to obey their orders. So for those of you who would threaten me, or any who feel as I do, I would remind to you tread carefully. You betray yourself and your supposed values.

Do I agree with this war? No. Never have. Did I vote for Bush in either election? No. Am I angry over being deprived my wife and family? Hell yes. Am I tired of seeing my comrades die in one useless war while they could have been protecting troops fighting another (Afghanistan)?

Yes.

That being said, never forget this. I AM A SOLDIER, and according to my leaders, a damned good one. To wish death on me or any of my comrades is an unforgiveable sin, and one I won't tolerate from anyone, regardless of his purported rank. I would rather take a bullet than abandon my fellow soldiers, but I would rather face court-martial than be silenced. My anger is my own, and my right to bear, and you will not take that. Not as long as I ensure your right to openly express your wish for my death.

As for the rest, again, thank you all for your encouragement. It means the world to me. It is people like you who remind me of my country's true virtues--tolerance, compassion, enlightened value systems, respect for the beliefs of others. If I may, however, I'd like to offer a warning.

Please don't make me an emblem for a cause.

I am a proud soldier, and I am a proud liberal. There was a time when I believed that those two things weren't mutually exclusive, but I am beginning to have my doubts. Nevertheless, duty is duty, and I have a dozen reasons to continue to suffer through this. Their names are Oz, and Brooks, and Mueller, and Jameson, and most importantly Anne. These people need me here, and they need me back in one piece. To do that, I must swallow my disillusionment with this enterprise and, as Brooks puts it "soldier up." Don't think for a moment that what I write here can come before my job.

In closing, I thank everyone again for their support, but before my site collapses again under the weight of another politically-charged flamewar, I would remind everyone here that, like it or not, I am here for the long-term. So are my comrades. Shouting each other down won't silence the opposed, it won't stop the attacks, and it won't bring home the troops. So I must respectfully request that everyone abandon their illusions about me before I continue.

Black, white, soldier, pacifist. Whichever of these labels applies to me is irrelevant.

At the end of the day, I'm just a guy trying to get back home to his wife.

30 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am glad I discovered your blog. Like you, I did not support the war in Iraq, but have believed in our entering Afghanistan. I was called "unpatriotic, unAmerican and a traiter" for saying I support the troops but not the war in Iraq. I am a Vietnam era veteran (non-combat), I know how to follow orders, even when I did not respect my superiors. Here, in Nebrasaka, Bush is very popular, but our Sen. Hagel (R) is catching hell for speaking his mind. And he has been right on this war all along. To try and get our leaders to end the insanity in Iraq IS PATRIOTIC. And, Milo, you seem to be a very sane, intelligent articulate man with a bright articulate wife. You both have my respect and support. A believer in free speech and democracy, Charlie

12:00 AM  
Blogger iamcoyote said...

Well said, Milo. I guess unless people have been in the military or have lived in a military setting, they don't understand that duty and honor aren't just words or plot devices in a war movie. They're so much a part of being a soldier, you don't really think about it until someone questions it.

When I started linking to your site, I was worried you might become a cause; some people can't help themselves, I guess, and most mean well. I'm sure that's what happened to Cindy Sheehan after she became the rope in a tug of war of ideas. Don't let yourself burn out, don't be the rope. Just be yourself; that's why I love reading your words. You remind me that "the troops" is more than just a catch phrase. The troops are individuals, people with hopes and dreams, likes and dislikes, people who have a unique view on what's going on in Iraq. I'm profoundly grateful to you for allowing us into your world; for sharing yourself as well as your perspective on life in a war zone. Take care, Milo and Anne. Thanks for being who you are.

1:50 AM  
Anonymous GiG said...

Black, white, soldier, pacifist. Whichever of these labels applies to me is irrelevant.

At the end of the day, I'm just a guy trying to get back home to his wife.


And that is all that matters. In the meantime, I, like so many others I'm sure, appreciate you sharing a little bit of your life and experiences with us, and of course your beautiful poems.

Hang in there Milo, take care, never stop speaking your mind and most importantly, stay safe.

P.S. I mentioned the so called Col. comments to my stepdad who is retired Army and an old time Republican, and he was disgusted. He would never, ever wish ill on any of his fellow men...it is one for all and all for one, no matter what, and he would give his life for any of his comrades, no matter what their religious, personal or political believes are.

1:53 AM  
Blogger Rojo said...

I'm not a liberal, I'm an anarchist. And I would never serve in what I view as an imperialist army. I'm also an atheist. I only mention all that to make clear that you and I, Milo, disagree on many things (although we agree on the war, if not our response to it).

That said, since discovering your blog, only with this most recent foofaraw, I read it through from beginning to end and have to say that it is clear you have made your choices only after serious moral thought, far more than most of your fellow Americans, perhaps even me, expend in the course of their entire lifetimes.

I also want to say that I find you a valuable voice and wish that you never be silenced.

Keep writing soldier.

1:56 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Milo-
I just saw this post and the last. As your strength in this post shows, we have little to worry about you being able to stand up to a simple minded ignorant fool. Stay Strong and As always, I am looking forward to having a beer with you again. In closing, I would like to quote the philosophers known as the Geto Boys in there treatise intitled "Damn it feels good to be a gangsta":

Now all I gotta say to you
Wannabe, gonnabe, pussy-eatin cocksuckin prankstas
When the shit jumps off what the fuck you gonna do
Damn it feels good to be a gangsta

Al-salam Aleykum

-The other Jew

2:02 AM  
Blogger L said...

Stumbled across your blog via the Doonesbury site.

Terrific writing. Just wanted to say hello before your hit meter starts smoking.

Stay safe,
A libertarian, ex-pat who detests war, but respects the warriors

2:07 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

And I will pray for your return to your wife.
You have every reason to vent, and you do it in style! I've been on this planet over 50yrs and currently feel as if we're living in the twilight zone. What is the truth, what is real, where is there a politician who stands for something-anything? Our next President had best be a LEADER who can snap us all to attention.
Can't believe there are sorry saps out there who would question your honor. Take care of yourself and your men. Many thanks to you and your family.
Cathy B

3:09 AM  
Blogger fjb said...

Milo,

Thank-you for being who you are. Don't ever stop. In another few years when my son is your age if he has half the integrity, strength, and wisdom that you possess, I'll know I've done something right as a parent. You and Anne both have my admiration, and your parent's must be incredibly proud.

Peace,
Fiona

3:15 AM  
Anonymous noel said...

I'm not sure I can say how valuable your voice seems to be in the midst of this madness. I feel honored to get to share even a small part of your journey.

Thank you again, both of you, for your service, your sacrifice, for serving honorably even when the president/congress/gangsters would misuse that honor.

What you write gives me a vision of what greatness America can rise to if integrity ever returns to the White House.

We're praying for your safe and quick return.

3:27 AM  
Blogger Hayden said...

Once again, perfect balance, Milo. I feel like a broken record, but Beautifully said/written!

12:27 AM  
Blogger toadman said...

Milo, you're integrity is inspiring. Thanks for everything you do, and everything you write. Come home soon, and in one piece, my friend.

If you're ever out my way, when you're back, we'll grab a coffee, or a beer.

3:28 AM  
Blogger cinnabari said...

I am a proud soldier, and I am a proud liberal.

And I love that you are both. And a Buddhist. And all the other things that you are.

People are more complicated than causes. Fuck the folks who want to shoehorn you into theirs.

(Doonesbury, eh? Dayum. You all famous and shit now)

5:24 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

SPC,

I'm a Capt in the Marine Corps, on my second deployment to Iraq.

While I don't agree with your views, I think you have a right to share them with your firneds and family.

However, as you point out you are a soldier. You are subject to the UCMJ and all orders from your chain of command. I'm assure you are aware of the new order requiring you to register your blog with OIC.

If you have not done this, I suggest you do so immediately. Otherwise, you could be NJP'd (or whatever they call it in the Army) .

8:58 AM  
Blogger Thomas said...

Personally, I think the military has much larger and more significant problems on it's hands then one soldier's blog. But, maybe that's just me.

Milo, just wanted to say I love you like that much more experienced and worldly older brother I never had, and though technically you're only a few days older then I am. But, I think you get the meaning. And, I think it's why I'm quite perturbed at these "military" types calling you all things under the sun. Seriously, when I read their words my fingers turn cold, and a rush of emotions comes over me. And then the words of Anne and yourself comfort me.

Once again, stay strong, stay safe, come home, where we'll enjoy beers and what not.

--TB

12:50 AM  
Blogger Seven of Six said...

I am a proud soldier, and I am a proud liberal.

I am a proud 100% disabled Veteran, and I am a proud liberal, albeit pissed off!

Milo, You've put your blog up for everyone to see. The more exposure you get, the vultures will try to pick you apart.

I started my own little viral support cause for you, (leaving messages at about 10 websites). I felt your freedom of speech was being attacked.
I certainly would want someone to support me anyway they could if my freedom of speech was being threatened.

Once a soldier always a soldier. If I can defend you I will. Especially when you have done nothing wrong but express your thoughts. I will cover your back stateside to the best of my ability.

You're not "a cause" or a "label" to me; you're a soldier, a husband, a human being. You're laying your life on the line for some stupid fucking politicians. I want you to know, I'm with you all the fucking way.

Yes, by all means, do your duty, mainly though, persevere.
Because in the end, "It's mind over matter...They don't mind, and you don't matter!"
I know, I got injured and was thrown away like a dirty rag. Then all of sudden they needed me again, and I was supposed to suddenly forget how the Army treated me.

I hope you understand part of my bitterness has also been because of my dealings with the Veterans Administration.

Peace, my brother in arms, get home safely to your wife.

P.S. To the Marine Capt. above: If Milo has not received direct orders from his CO or COC on the new directive how is he to follow it? Because you're ordering him too!
Jesus, don't you have something better to do!

6:33 AM  
Blogger Joe said...

Good blog mate: it's so well written I use it in my English classes here in Spain.

The war is far from popular over here (80% of the Spanish people opposed it), but it's very gratifying to watch my students realize that US soldiers are like any other group of people, not some bunch of ignorant gung-ho grunts, and get across a "support the warrior, not the war" sort of message to them.

Keep up the good work and do try to get yourself back home with all your bits in the right places, Joe, Madrid, Spain.

10:38 AM  
Blogger KT said...

I must say, it seems pretty obvious that there are a lot of people trying to keep us stateside folks in the dark about what is really happening there. Until I started reading blogs like this (and, really, this one is unique, but there are a few other good ones) and receiving emails from my cousin's husband who just entered Iraq a few days ago, the fact that this war is SO screwed up was more of a vague concept. Now I know a lot more about the realities of being there (not that I can ever REALLY know) and it has just made this war more horrifying.

It's a good thing, getting to see more and more of the truth. Maybe kids will grow up with more of an idea of why we need to exhaust all diplomatic measures before committing real people to fighting for something only the minority believes in.

I don't think of you as a cause or a poster boy, I think of you as a person I genuinely care about stuck in a tough situation and generally making the best of it. Part of that is you have found a way to be useful above and beyond your military duties!

I read the comments and yours and Anne's posts to some of my ex-military family members, mostly hard-core Republicans, and they were horrified that ANYONE would ever wish ill on a soldier. If anything, they were more upset about it than I was!

Please understand that, at least for some of us, the politics of this blog are not nearly as important as the way you bring the everyday realities home to us. Your eloquence is far greater than most reporters, and your thoughts are far more mature and considered than can usually be expected of someone your age. Thank you for sharing it all with us!!!

11:41 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Seven of Six,

If Milo was access to the internet, I can assure you he is aware of the Army's new policy regarding blogs.

Having an unregistered blog is a violation of an order. If you are a veteran, than you know that ignorance is no excuse when it comes to not following orders.

As I said, I have no problem with Milo expressing his opinion with his family and friends. However, if he intends to continue blogging, it needs to be registered or he could face punative action from his command.

And to answer you question: I'm in the Al Anbar province and things are so quiet out here right now that I have time to surf the net and read military blogs that talk about what other Marines/soldiers are dealing with in other provinces.

Capt USMC

5:04 PM  
Blogger Seven of Six said...

Capt USMC, If I did not get told the order by my CO, COC or a written directive, I would have no idea it was a punishable offense.

I'm sure you have pop up screens in Iraq notifying of such directives?
Hey, are you allowed to visit such sites as Daily Kos, or is it blocked off?
Just wanted to know what kind of information is available to the soldier. After all they are fighting for our democracy and I would hate to see a denial of some good left wing sites.

Yes, I'm a Veteran, 100% disabled. Got fucked up in Panama. A Company , 193rd Support BN.

BTW, my nephew is a Marine Navigator. His Dad is a (Ret.) Lt. Col., my Sister still works for DoD at CENTCOM in Tampa. They are much more conservative, but respect my point of view as much as I respect theirs.

Oh, and my Dad is D-Day survivor. My brother is a Vietnam Veteran. Both of them are very liberal and think bu$h is a bonehead and pretty much ruining our country. Any crime in expressing that?

Stay safe Captain. If you are a Captain "in the Al Anbar province".

6:40 PM  
Anonymous Anne said...

Hey Cap,

Where would we even go to register a blog? I'm not even kidding when I say there has been NO information posted or dispersed about it. I'm sure Milo would be happy to register it, but WHERE do we register? With whom? I hear all these vague mentions from people other than the command chain telling us to register, bu they all seem to have the same info I do...

2:06 PM  
Blogger Marty said...

My son said blogs are to be registered through Milo's S2 Section. However, if he has not received any orders from his chain of command why bother. He said to tell you "blog on brother"...

1:58 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anne,

Here is a link to the stars and stripes article on the new regulations. The info box on the side has a link to the actual "Updated Army Regulations."

The bottom line is that Milo needs to inform his Officer in Charge that he is blogging and provide the web address. If he has done that, nobody can accuse him of violating any orders.

If it were me, I would nofity them in person and e-mail them, so I had something on paper that showed I had notified my chain of command. This is a little bit of CYA, but it never hurts to have it.

Capt, USMC

11:13 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

http://www.estripes.com/article.asp?section=104&article=53157&archive=true

I hate it when I forget to add the link.

11:21 AM  
Anonymous Anne said...

Thanks so much for the info. I'm not sure when he'll be able to see it, but I'll make sure he makes a note of it when he has a chance.

8:10 AM  
Blogger alosha said...

*applauding*

soldier, liberal, whatever you call yourself, you are a fine human being. you and anne are very lucky to have found one another and I hope like hell you get to hug each other soon.

2:14 AM  
Blogger Dusty said...

Blog on sweet soldier. Be safe.

4:13 AM  
Blogger Pixie said...

Anne? Milo? Speak, please... you are missed.

LOVE.

8:44 AM  
Blogger JRH said...

When I read the comments you've gotten above, it seems like everyone wants to identify what "side" they're on. That's a disturbing piece of evidence as to how polarized American discourse has become.

You should write what you want (as long as there is no direct OPSEC concern, obviously.) It's your blog. If someone doesn't like what you write, there are plenty of other blogs out there for them to read.

As far as the blog registration-- you wouldn't be the only soldier to have problems finding out where to register. I know of other milbloggers who were sent to five or six different people before command finally figured out whom they should contact.

If you haven't heard about Books for Soldiers, I encourage you to check out the BFS website. Any deployed military can request books, DVDs, or small needed items. We require BFS volunteers to "check their politics at the door." Our volunteers are people from across the U.S; they are of all political persuasions and all walks of life, but we all have one common goal-- we want to show tangible support to our deployed military folks around the globe, not just slap a magnet on the old SUV.

Keep blogging as much as you can, Milo, and keep writing even when you can't blog. It's good for you, and it's good for us to read you.

Be safe,
--Julie
Site Admin - Books for Soldiers
http://booksforsoldiers.com

7:57 AM  
Blogger Josie said...

War has never been easy for any family. To live through it is hell for all involved. Agree, or disagree with the cause of the war makes no difference. What you and your family are going through takes patience, trust, and a lot of mental strength. From one family of war to another thank you. Chin up. Return home to your wife in one piece.

5:01 AM  
Blogger Aprillini said...

At the end of the day, I'm just a guy trying to get back home to his wife.
GOOD LUCK!!

1:00 PM  

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