I had a third cousin over in Iraq. Don't know whether he's still over there or not, but as a relative of a U.S. patriot, I decided to write this in commemoration of the U.S. Marine.

A Soldier's Thoughts

By: Benji

I remember staring at the wounds that day. The wounds of a complacent nation, who had only gone about it's business. I remember when the news was told to classrooms, where I, and many other students watched the towers fall. Perhaps that was the darkest moment of United States history.

We were just staring at the television, shocked, some of us thinking that it was a movie, that it wasn't real. By the time we got to thinking that this movie was not any Hollywood America wins movie is something that we had to take into consideration. Then it hit us, with a ton of bricks, this was a terrorist attack. Over three thousand men and women, and possibly children, died in that horrible flame.

And then I saw something that I never thought I would possibly see. A nation divided. Afghanistan, Iraq, they were nations that soon America would know all too well. A nation where soldiers like me would fight and die. I remember watching the news, FoxNews at that. It was shortly before that that I became a Republican.

It was also soon after that I became a US soldier. A marine, fighting and dying for my country. The letters we wrote home spoke nothing of battles or slaughter, but of hope and peace. Many people in the U.S. think that peace has been restored. Despite the fact that, as Americans sat back and watched Hitler do away with the Jews, we were sitting back letting Hussein get away with the Kurds, the Shiites, the Kuwaitis, and the Iranians.

As I stare at a nation so divided, I wonder why it came down to this. Some of my fellow Americans claim to believe that America is war-mongering. Yet, was Hitler war-mongering when he kept swallowing innocent nations? Can't the same appeasement be found in the American youth today?

I understand them, though. I am an American too. But yet I wonder how often I can consider the option of running away. I choose not to. I will fight and die, march and die, do what it takes to ensure my nation a victory.

As I serve in Iraq, I see things different. I do not hate the American youth, who supported John Kerry. I'm just saying, why should they say that Iraq is a failure, when the soldiers fighting here and dying here do not see it that way? Perhaps they should look at a soldier's face, and wonder, what happened in Iraq? Why can't they look at what good has been done, and not what bad has been done?

Perhaps it should be noted, that I serve in Iraq. I see the faces of the Iraqi youth. They've been hurt so much. But when I look in their eyes, I only see resolve. Resolve that no matter how hurt they have been, that they look forward to the future. And then I remember, it was my sacrifice, and my friend's sacrifice, that gave them that future; a future free from Saddam, free from the ideals of fear, freedom for a nation that has never had it before.

In Afghanistan, I saw hope. The elections were beautiful. People came out to vote, even though the Taliban wanted to stop them. Even though they had lived their lives in fear, afraid that if they didn't vote for the Taliban, that they'd be killed or tortured.

I saw the same things in Iraq. I saw the Iraqis vote for the first time, as they took their first steps. I saw the day that the sun rose over the country that for the first time, ever, of it's existence, could determine the course of their own country.

Perhaps it should also be noted that America's favorite pastime was in just a few seventy hours. Oh yes, how fun it would be to watch a football game!

I pray for the day that I could watch a football game; to be there with my son, to stand up and cheer for my favorite sports team. But as a soldier of the United States Marine Corps, I know that my future may not turn out that way. But then it clicks, even if mine doesn't, my brother's, my sister's, my friend's, another soldier's, there's will.

I know that what I am doing is right. I heard rumors of Abu Ghraib. I still question the authenticity of that event, but yet I do not believe that true torture was involved. Perhaps only embarrassment, but I doubt any American would have the vile to treat a human so inhumanely. I am not concerned with it's authenticity however, if they're guilty they'll go to prison, if they're innocent, they'll be let go, and back into active service.

I am an American citizen. I am an American soldier. I, like my forefathers, who fought and died in the trenches at Bologne, who fought on the beaches of Normandy and Calais, who fought in the lines of Korea, who fought in the swampy marshlands of Vietnam, I too fight for the freedom and ideals of my people.

I pray for peace, but yet I know it will never come, because in the end, peace doesn't end war, it's war that brings peace. And sometimes, we have to fight for peace. Sometimes it means fighting and dying for the innocence of my nephews and nieces, and of my father and mother, and of my brothers.

I pray for the day that the whole world can live in peace. And to tell you the truth, they may not be so far after all. Another tyrant of the twentieth century has fallen. Crashed and burned. Now all that remains is big brotha' Kim, representin' the NK hood, Castro, representin' the Cubano hood, and Chavez, some Venezuelan punk who thinks that he can boss around anybody and rig elections to his outcome.

As much as I joke around speaking ebonics, it's one of the only sources of amusement around in Iraq. There are no bars, or anything else for that matter, that could be credited with entertaining American soldiers. Our entertainment is important to us. I pray to Jesus everyday. And I can only pray, for that's all that's guaranteed to me. My prayer.