artwork by Josh Chambers
author requests to remain anonymous
In 2004, starting on April 6th and running through the 10th, the Battle of Ramadi raged. It has been called the heaviest urban warfare American forces have seen since Vietnam by some historians. By the end of the battle, 13 of my brothers will have been killed (most of these in the opening minutes) and another 40 wounded. We, in turn, sent several hundred Iraqis to an early grave. At the time, and for years after, I had no sympathy for those we faced and blamed our casualties on the men who pulled the triggers that day.
Most of us stepped on those yellow footprints with the idea that we would become warriors for freedom. Defenders of a nation. We believed ourselves to be protectors. A front line against tyranny and evil. We were naive. Our noble ambitions and national pride were skillfully directed to achieve the aims of a global political and corporate elite. We became pawns in a chess game we were too misinformed to see. I have since allowed myself to see the truth that I actively avoided while in that desert hell: We were the invaders. I would have behaved no differently than my “enemies” if our roles were reversed and imperial troops were at my doorstep.
I have no regrets regarding my enlistment. I have no animosity toward the men I shared those experiences with. Most of my regrets lied, and died, with my ignorance. The men and women that used us as a bludgeon in an attempt to subjugate the population of Ramadi and the rest of Iraq may never face justice, but they taught me a valuable lesson: The cost of tyranny will always be borne by those who can least afford it.
To those that suffered through this conflict: I wish that I could have brought your sons home. I wish that I hadn’t had to choose between my family and your family. I hope your hearts are healed.
Going forward, I will do everything I can to deny the tyrants fresh blood to sustain their march against freedom.