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Justin M. Stoddard

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I Protected Your Freedoms…Not
February 1, 2004 — 11:00 am

I’ve got a message for all you leftist anti-war protesters out there. I served in the Army for over 11 years. I alone stood between you and those who would take away your freedoms. So, the next time you feel like burning an American flag, remember that it’s only because of me that you can do so. And, oh yeah, if you engage in any of the freedoms I single handedly preserved, I will kick your commie loving ass.

Whoa! Where did that come from? Could it be that, just for a moment, I started to believe all the propaganda out there about rights and civil liberties? It is true, I was a soldier in the United States Army for more than 11 years. I recently exited the service for a job in the private sector.

I spent more than 9 months in Bosnia. I was put on alert several times to go to Korea in the early 90’s. (Remember when we thought war was inevitable with them?). I spent some time planning extractions for United States citizens in countries like Liberia. I even volunteered to go to Somalia.

I completed Air Assault school, crawled around in the mud, rain and snow. The first half of my marriage was literally spent separated from my wife because of Army deployments and exercises. We never had a lot of money. For more than a year we had to put backpacks on to go shopping at the PX. (We couldn’t afford a car).

Through all of that, and more, I never once uttered the statement, or even thought that I was protecting your freedoms. What utter hogwash. My deployment in Bosnia had nothing to do with civil liberties in the United States. The time I spent in Germany did nothing to protect America from attack. Me jumping out of a helicopter did absolutely nothing to ensure the freedom of speech was protected.

That’s why it completely amazes me when I constantly hear that I protected and preserved your rights when I was in uniform. Conservative talk radio hosts utter this fallacy all the time. According to some, any protest against the war in Iraq deserves condemnation because the very U.S. soldiers who are protecting your right to protest are being maimed and killed in that very war.

Even if the statement were true, which it’s not, it makes absolutely no sense. Brave American soldiers are fighting for nothing more than to preserve your God given rights. However, if you dare practice those rights, you are a at best an ingrate, at worst, a traitor to your country. In effect, these people are saying that U.S. soldiers are dying for absolutely nothing since you have no right to practice the very rights they are dying for. This is lazy thinking at its worst.

The fact of the matter is, soldiers stationed in Iraq are doing absolutely nothing to protect your freedoms here at home. Nothing, Zilch, the big Zero. Ask yourself honestly, are you freer now than you were a year ago?

The fact of the matter is this. Men and Women join the military for their own selfish reasons. It may be to escape the clutches of their home town. It may be to get money for college. It may be to improve themselves in some manner. And yes, it very well may be out of a desire to serve their country. These reasons, in and of themselves, are neither noble or ignoble. They are simply decisions acted upon out of the desire to do what was right for ourselves. I never met one person in all my time in (and I came across thousands) that ever felt what they were doing was protecting the rights of citizens back home.

America, you owe me nothing because, well, I did little or nothing for you. For what I did do, I was justly compensated. If you want to thank someone for protecting your rights, thank organizations like the Institute for Justice or Jews for the Preservation of Firearms Ownership or any number of civil rights advocacy groups out there. Every day they are on the front lines fighting for your rights. They deserve your support.


— Justin M. StoddardComments (0)

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