A veteran’s view of the protest

Unless you are willing to give for your country, why should you expect to receive anything from your country?

I am a Marine Corps Iraq War veteran. I was an infantry squad leader. I have killed insurgents. You can call me a murderer or a hero. I really do not care; what I did was right. I was doing what I enlisted to do in March 2003.

Now, I am a student. Honorably discharged from active duty in December 2007, I came back home. I had never planned to become any sort of activist. I wanted to finish my degree and move on. However, after the recent events in Forest Lake and the rally on campus, I find that I cannot stand by and watch from the sidelines.

For the record, the veterans in front of the office were pro-troop and not pro-war as many believed. I was quoted in the Daily on March 28 saying, “They have a freedom to protest, but they are stopping the freedom to join the military.” By shutting down those offices, protestors impeded the recruitment of future Navy and Army doctors, pilots, nurses and many other military occupation specialties that have nothing to do with war. They stopped the recruitment of pilots that could have been used to fly the next disaster relief mission to bring food and water to thousands in, for example, Taiwan, Philippines, Mississippi and Louisiana. Shutting down these offices for people to join the military service is intolerable.

One protester said people join the military to go to Iraq to kill. On the contrary, most deployed members in Iraq never even leave the major bases, let alone fire their weapons. Only a small percentage of troops deployed have an actual combat mission. Others are administrative and field support for deployed troops. Others build schools, police stations or bridges.

Some claim that the money spent on war could be used for free education. This is a valid point; however, college education wasn’t free before the war began either. If you are really hurting for money while you are student, you can ask your fellow protestors from Macalester College for some cash. I’m sure they can spare some money from their annual tuition cost of $36,504 to help out a fellow activist. Here is another option: join the military. You can get up to $50,000 for education. Millions of Americans have done it. Even better, while you are in the service, you can get up to $4,500 per fiscal year in tuition assistance (guaranteed grants) as well. That’s $68,000 for college on a four year contract. Unless you are willing to give for your country, why should you expect to receive anything from your country?

On the 28th, the Daily wrote “Ö organizers encouraged participants to be loud. ‘We want lots of noise to interrupt every class for people who didn’t care enough to get out of class for this,’ [Erika] Zurawski said.”

What wasn’t told was that FOX News questioned rally organizers as to why the rally wasn’t held on the fifth anniversary, March 20, instead of the 27th. The reply, “We were on spring break.”

This seems extremely hypocritical to me. I know that if the rally had been on March 20, the veterans would have been there even if it did conflict with our vacation schedule.

Other protestors claim that 4,000 Americans dead is 4,000 too many. These were the “troop supporters.” They say this is why we need to leave, before another one dies. Please, do not speak to me about American deaths. I do not want to hear someone tarnish the names of the people who died for a job they volunteered to do. I do not want a 19-year-old kid telling me that my friends, including one of the only two Medal of Honor recipients to come out of Iraq, died for nothing.

Some protestor yelled at me, “F- – – off and die.” Going back to the characteristic of patience that I had developed through my military experience, I replied, “Thank you. I almost have many times, all for your right to say that to me.”

I did not write this to complain or call out to other students to join my position. I want to show that there is another side of the issue that has a very large lack of coverage from the media. The readers can agree or disagree with me. That is the beauty of America.

The truth is that most Americans do not know the fear of walking on a street and finding an IED. They do not know the fear of a sniper firing at them. They do not know the fear of a complex ambush with mortar rounds. The reason why is because of brave men and women in the military. The people who are heroes are the 4,000 American men and women who sacrificed their lives so one person can claim she is a hero because she was arrested for trespassing at the recruiting office.

Bryan Axelrod is a University student. Please send comments to [email protected]