Wherever this letter finds you, I hope you are healthy and happy. I have been thinking about writing this letter for a while now, just waiting for the right time. I thought about waiting until November for Veterans Day, but it seemed too long to wait. I looked at the calendar and tried to find a perfect time to send you this letter.
Then, I realized something: you are in harm's way every single day, your families are constantly worrying, and you are fighting for your nation and its freedoms 24/7. Every day is the right day to write this letter because I don't think I can ever thank you enough for what you do for our country and me.
I cannot imagine what you go through every day: the fear, the pain, the worry. In Iraq alone, we have lost nearly 2,000 troops since our invasion in 2003, sacrifices that no amount of thank-you's can ever suffice.
For the families and friends of those brave soldiers, nothing will ever be the same – nothing. Yet, I still want those families to know that I appreciate their sacrifice, a sacrifice that will truly make a difference in the lives of every single American citizen, and for many in the nation of Iraq.
I could not be more proud of every single member of our military. I grew up in a military town, Colorado Springs, home of Peterson Air Force Base, Fort Carson and the United States Air Force Academy. Almost every day I am home, I run into a man or woman in uniform and every day I say thank you, sometimes directly to them, sometimes just in my prayers.
My family has always appreciated the efforts of our military; my dad is a retired Air Force Colonel who flew in Vietnam, an experience he certainly did not enjoy but an experience that he has never regretted. Once America went to Iraq, once the protests and outcries against our invasion began, my dad told me a story about how hard it is to be in the military when those at home do not support your efforts. He could not wear his uniform off base because he was afraid anti-war protesters would attack him. Talking to troops who are coming back from their first tour of duty in Iraq, many are beginning to experience the same types of behavior, which brings me to the reason I decided to present this letter in a public forum.
There is absolutely no excuse for anyone to not be thankful to you for your efforts throughout the world. The fact that some do not agree with the war you are fighting does not give them any excuse to treat you with anything but respect. It was not your choice to go to Iraq or anywhere else you are serving in the world, yet you went and served your nation without question, even those of you who do not agree with the reasons you are at war. For any soldier who has ever been insulted by a undereducated, naive anti-war activist, I want to apologize for their utter lack of intelligence and respect.
You are doing one of the hardest jobs on the face of this earth, and you do it without complaint or fanfare. You are the best role models for what it means to be an American and I want to thank you for not only understanding that freedom is not free but being willing to pay the bill for the rest of your countrymen. Know that for every single protest you hear, there are just as many individuals praying for you and thanking you as they watch the American flag wave.
Humbly and thankfully yours,
Jake Blumberg is a sophomore technical journalism and political science double major. His column runs every Monday in the Collegian.