By Charles Krohn
Best Defense department of second
Is it an honor or a cruel joke to read "Operation Iraqi
Freedom" on the headstone of a fallen soldier?
Given the irony of OIF in a historic
context, the question is
not irreverent, but it is relevant. This wouldn't be true, of course, if our
invasion had yielded results intended and predicted, however imperfectly.
As an old soldier who has carried
one too many body bags out of the battlefield, I feel a great kinship with the
next of kin of the fallen. Few memories hold greater pain.
I wouldn't even ask this
question if I didn't wonder if some in the Gold Star community weren't also
asking it, even to themselves. And if any read this, please accept my reverence
for you and the deceased. I know your loved one answered
the call of the nation, understanding great risk was necessary to protect
our country and help spread freedom among the oppressed. What could
be more noble?
Is it not just as honorable now to
recognize the prospect of freedom in Iraq as originally postulated is remote?
As others have written, there is still great confusion about who will lead
Iraq. The only thing most agree upon is that Iran, once held in check by Iraq,
is now spreading its virulent reach deeper into the region, with a nuclear
threat just around the corner.
Simply stated, the inspiration for
Operation Iraqi Freedom was a dream. Does it honor or dishonor those who fell
to perpetuate this myth on their headstones?
Should the matter be swept under the rug as an incidental
slip of history or should next-of-kin have the option of a new headstone,
marking sacrifice without promoting an idea whose time has passed?
Charles A. Krohn is the author of The Lost Battalion of Tet. Now chilling in Panama City Beach, Florida, he served in Iraq in 2003-2004 as public affairs adviser to the
director of the Infrastructure Reconstruction Program, and later as public
affairs officer for the American Battle Monuments Commission.