A Lady's Ruminations

"Jane was firm where she felt herself to be right." -Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice

Monday, February 19, 2007

"the United States Army is a force of good in this world"

So wrote 2nd Lieutenant Mark Daily.

He gave his life for this country, because he believed in our purpose, our mission, and our place on this earth.

From the L.A. Times (surprisingly):

Mark Daily wrote on MySpace that he joined the Army to help the suffering people of Iraq. In death, his words have become a call to service.

"WHY I joined: The question has been asked of me so many times in so many different contexts that I thought it would be best if I wrote my reasons for joining the Army on my page for all to see."

Oct. 29, 2006. On the night before he deployed to Iraq, Army 2nd Lt. Mark Jennings Daily sat down at his laptop in his Texas apartment and began tapping out an essay for his MySpace Web page. Daily, a 23-year-old Irvine native who considered himself a liberal humanist, had decided to join the fight despite initial doubts about the war.

Before shipping out, he wanted to explain why.

The decision had befuddled some. After all, Daily was a UCLA political science graduate with a wide circle of friends and dreams of becoming a senator, or a history professor, or a foreign correspondent. Why join the Army?

His essay would turn out to be a last testament to one soldier's courage and convictions.
Lt. Daily wrote:

"Anyone who knew me before I joined knows that I am quite aware and at times sympathetic to the arguments against the war in Iraq. If you think the only way a person could bring themselves to volunteer for this war is through sheer desperation or blind obedience then consider me the exception."

In a 2005 videotape of his officers' commissioning ceremony, Daily told the crowd that the U.S. Army is one of the few militaries in the world that teach not only tactics but also ethics. "I genuinely believe the United States Army is a force of good in this world," he said.

He was not blind to military transgressions and fumed to his father that the abuse of Iraqi prisoners by U.S. soldiers at Abu Ghraib was a failure of leadership. But that was exactly why he needed to get over there, he said. He was going to make sure that his men upheld Army values of integrity and honor.

So that is why I joined. In the time it took you to read this explanation, innocent people your age have suffered under the crushing misery of tyranny.

Don't forget that human beings have a responsibility to one another and that Americans have a responsibility to the oppressed. Assisting a formerly oppressed population in converting their torn society into a plural, democratic one is dangerous and difficult business, especially when being attacked and sabotaged from literally every direction.

So if you have anything to say to me at the end of this reading, let it at least include "Good Luck."
In typical fashion, he sought out new points of view. In one discussion, he wrote that he asked a Kurdish man whether the insurgents could be viewed as freedom fighters. The man cut him off. "The difference between insurgents and American soldiers," Daily said the man told him, "is that they get paid to take life — to murder — and you get paid to save lives."

"That Kurdish man's assessment of our presence means more to me than all of the naysayers and makeshift humanists that monopolize our interpretation of this war," Daily wrote in a Dec. 31 e-mail.

He was equally expansive with his troops. His wife, Janet, says he was constantly asking for tea bags so he could invite his soldiers to his room for tea and talk. They asked him for advice about careers, finances and family problems, discussed politics and philosophy. His troops jokingly posted a sign on his door: "Mark's Tea Hour."

In January, Daily was transferred from a support operation to a security one. He told his family that if he should die, he would never regret a thing.

In an e-mail to his brother, Eric, Daily wrote: "I know it is hard for you knowing that I am over here in danger, but never forget that I came here on behalf of the countless brothers who were torn apart by the savage exploits of this region's tyrants."

On Jan. 14, the family received another e-mail:

"All is well. More war stories then I can fit in this e-mail. Having the time of my life!"

It was his last e-mail.
For, sadly,

The next day, Jan. 15, Daily was killed when a roadside bomb detonated beneath his vehicle in Mosul. Three of his comrades died with him.

But his words have become a living appeal for his most treasured Army value — selfless service — as it rips through the Internet and reaches unimagined audiences.
We must all thank God that there are such men left in this world. I pray that Lt. Daily's words and example will inspire more young men to answer Freedom's call. We need you.

Michelle Malkin has a post on Lt. Daily. As she wrote, "Print, save, pass it on."

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