Hope Rides Alone Amidst Yellow Ribbon Fanfare
In Hope Rides Alone, Sgt. Eddie Jeffers writes from Iraq and explains in half a sentence our parallel feelings about yellow ribbons and their too often hollow symbolism that has robbed them of sincere meaning in the eyes of the serving.
I stare out into the darkness from my post, and I watch the city burn to the ground. I smell the familiar smells, I walk through the familiar rubble, and I look at the frightened faces that watch me pass down the streets of their neighborhoods. My nerves hardly rest; my hands are steady on a device that has been given to me from my government for the purpose of taking the lives of others.
I sweat, and I am tired. My back aches from the loads I carry. Young American boys look to me to direct them in a manner that will someday allow them to see their families again...and yet, I too, am just a boy....my age not but a few years more than that of the ones I lead. I am stressed, I am scared, and I am paranoid...because death is everywhere. It waits for me, it calls to me from around street corners and windows, and it is always there.
There are the demons that follow me, and tempt me into thoughts and actions that are not my own...but that are necessary for survival. I've made compromises with my humanity. And I am not alone in this. Miles from me are my brethren in this world, who walk in the same streets...who feel the same things, whether they admit to it or not.
And to think, I volunteered for this...
And I am ignorant to the rest of the world...or so I thought.But even thousands of miles away, in Ramadi, Iraq, the cries and screams and complaints of the ungrateful reach me. In a year, I will be thrust back into society from a life and mentality that doesn't fit your average man. And then, I will be alone. And then, I will walk down the streets of America, and see the yellow ribbon stickers on the cars of the same people who compare our President to Hitler.
Sgt. Jeffers also echoes what I have tried repeatedly to point out: Absent in the debate against American action in Iraq is any consideration at all for the Iraqi people. Barack Obama may be an exception when he said, “It is time for us to fundamentally change our policy, it’s time to give Iraqis their country back.” This soldier on the ground says:
We are the hope of the Iraqi people. They want what everyone else wants in life: safety, security, somewhere to call home. They want a country that is safe to raise their children in. Not a place where their children will be abducted, raped and murdered if they do not comply with the terrorists demands. They want to live on, rebuild and prosper. And America has given them the opportunity, but only if we stay true to the cause and see it to its end.
That Senator Obama's appealing suggestion would surrender the Iraqi people exposed to the enemy currently killing them without American defense illustrates clearly that those who need to hear cannot or will not.
Sgt. Jeffers' words from Ramadi should be read in full. Please afford him a few minutes in your busy day to listen.
Get rid of your yellow ribbons. If you want to display your support for the troops, display it to them, not to your neighbors. Try going to the good folks in the Adopt-a-Soldier Platoon and help them "ship obscene amenities into the war zone for them,” which seems to really upset some American writers. These folks sponsor entire units and work tirelessly to be as "obscene" as possible...if Q-Tips, shampoo, wipes and shippable foods in the middle of Hell can be considered such.
I do not know Sgt. Eddie Jeffers, nor do I know to where he will return after his tour and service are complete. But when he does return, he will never walk down my street alone. Not ever.