All of this happened over the Fourth of July weekend.
On Sunday, I read an article about a housing development in Beverly Hills called Beverly Park. Houses are 18,000, 25,000, 30,000 square feet. Every house has to have a screening room. Neighbors fight with neighbors about sculptures and the color paint they use. No one sounds terribly happy. As far as I can tell, almost everyone in the development is Jewish. What am I to make of this? Sixty years after Hitler came close to wiping out the Jews of Europe, a hundred years after Jews arrived here in rags, they are living in houses of 25,000 square feet -- and complaining about their neighbors. We Jews are amazingly strange people.
On Monday, I had dinner with a man named Sgt. John Quinones who has just come back from two tours in Iraq and one in Afghanistan. He is a wounded, highly decorated infantryman. A real hero. He said he thought things in Iraq were difficult, but the Iraqi National Guardsmen he worked with were fantastically brave. He can't wait to go back and fight more. He's in Yuma, Arizona, testing devices to jam remotely detonated IED's. Some work better than others.
He wants his wife to go see her mother but they can't afford it. Wifey and I said we would pay. It seems like little enough to do.
After dinner, he and my Boeing pal Peggy and I went to a bar where he played a message on his cell from his daughter telling him, "Daddy, I miss you. Daddy, I'm scared. Daddy, don't go. Daddy I love you. Daddy, don't go." She's almost three years old. His eyes misted over when he told me the story.
That night I read a piece in the New York Times about how the British tortured and killed American patriots in New York harbor during the Revolutionary War. Supposedly, according to the author, what George Bush is doing with al Qaeda captives is the same. Supposedly there is some connection between Patrick Henry and John Adams and Zarqawi and bin Laden. And the Democrats wonder why they can't get traction in middle America.
On July Fourth, Quinones and I were joined by his two fellow soldiers and testers of IED jammers, Griff and Danny. We had sushi, bought clothes at Brooks Brothers in Palm Desert, talked about the war. Griff is a member of EODS. This, if I recall right, is Explosive Ordnance Disposal Service, or something like that. He is called in when IEDs are found or suspected, blows them up, then goes home.
"The beautiful thing," he said, "is that if you make a mistake, you never know it. You're just a pink mist."
Danny laughed heartily at this.
We had dinner at our club and watched fireworks. The disc jockey in the club played patriotic songs. When he played The Star Spangled Banner, Griff and Danny stood at attention, their eyes shining.
I got an e-mail from the mother of a Lance Corporal in the Marines named Tyler Jackson. He is accused of murdering an Iraqi civilian and covering it up, along with some other Marines. Until recently, he was being held in leg irons in solitary confinement at Pendleton. He was questioned for weeks before he got to see a lawyer.
A few weeks ago, a historian sent me a long article about how the terrorists are fighting us by cooking up these horror stories and paying people to pretend to "witness" them. Either they "witness" U.S. atrocities or they get their heads cut off. The British in Iraq have found out that almost all of these accusations are false. I wonder how many months will have to go by until we learn that some of these accusations against our men are false.
In the meantime, how can it be that the Supreme Court is worried about the rights of Osama bin Laden's driver in court, but no one is raising a finger about the rights of Marines who offer their lives to fight for us and then get held in leg irons when there is an accusation against them? How can this be?
How can it be that in the mainstream media, you will NEVER see a soldier's photo on the front page unless he's charged with a crime, as Wlady asks.
Glorious America, time to figure out who your friends are, I thought, and then looked at the stars. We are still a free people, thanks to men like Griff and John and Danny, and when one of their colleagues is accused of wrongdoing, let's show some darned respect.
Last I heard, it was innocent until proven guilty.
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