Monday, May 26, 2008

Ever Faithful

Jason Dunham ... no -- United States Marine Corps Corporal Jason Dunham died April 22, 2004, of wounds sustained April 14 from an ambush in the Iraqi town of Karabilah. Jeff Emanuel reports, "The corporal engaged the enemy in hand-to-hand combat. At one point, he shouted to his fellow Marines, 'No. No. No. Watch his hand.' Moments later, an enemy grenade rolled out and Corporal Dunham jumped on the grenade to protect his fellow Marines, using his helmet and body to absorb the blast."

Emanuel later quotes from the milblog I Love Jet Noise: Dunham "told his friends he was planning to extend his enlistment and stay in Iraq for the battalion's entire tour. 'You're crazy for extending,' Lance Cpl. Dean recalls saying. 'Why?'

"He says Cpl. Dunham responded: 'I want to make sure everyone makes it home alive. I want to be sure you go home to your wife alive.'"

To which Jet Noise says, "Mission accomplished, Corporal Dunham. Semper Fidelis."


Corporal Dunham was the first American soldier to be killed in Iraq. He was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor, posthumously.

Nothing we can do or say will be sufficient dedication or memorial to such men. Our emotion and eloquence and devotion have but poor power in such a task, and we attempt it only because not to do so would shame us. Fallen heroes are beyond our power to honor or shame.

America has shamed itself, I feel, in its implicit repudiation of the mission for which this young man was slain. We have faltered and are falling, not from fatigue but petulance. The unfinished work, it seems, will remain unfinished, and what they have nobly advanced will be lost, it seems, in retreat.

We have fought great and bloody wars, to found and preserve this land of freedom. Many of us are no longer willing to sustain a fight that will spread or even ensure our blessings. The measure of our devotion has been taken, and is found wanting.

Do heroes die in vain? Let it not be so. Let it never be said. Heroism is like love. It enriches creation, and it is, in itself, pleasing to God.



In Memoriam

I am drawn back to make an obvious and necessary point -- a contrast. Nothing subtle. Clear.

Jason Dunham. Who threw himself onto a live grenade to protect his comrades, and lost his life as a result. This is what we call a hero. This is the sort of man we honor, to the limits of our ability, with medals and ceremonies. He embodies what we consider to be best and most noble in our culture and in humanity.

The name Jason means healer. Well. He was a preserver of life.

Soldiers are meant to be killers. This is as it should be. War is brutal, and should and must be. All self-defense against blood enemies must be brutal. Survival is at stake, and not mere personal survival. Where duty is involved, for honorable men there is no choice. This is how we define ourselves: by our precepts and our actions. We do not take the words of the enemy as true -- the enemy does not define us, and the words of the enemy do not describe us. The enemy might describe himself, and does. He loves death. We, however, do not love Pepsi. We love life. And because of this, we will fight, and kill, and die.

And then there is the enemy. The schoolbus ambushers. The beheaders of civilians. The mad bombers. The heroes of islamism. They love death. It is their creed. They wean their little ones on bile. That's how monsters are born -- they are made, out of little children. Of course they can win. All that needs to happen is that we do not resist. Honor can die. Humanity has died, in the enemy. Every good thing might fade, grow futile and frail, and perish. The only surety we have of survival is that which we make for ourselves. Fires need tending.

Men of honor turn with fair and splendid purpose to the work of preserving innocence and virtue and liberty. They trust that the highest call is love, and roll the red psalm of their sacrifice to skies filled with blue and white and stars. Inhaling sharp smoke and desert dust they suffer endless ills, that what is just and right and the craving of their hearts might be born and survive and thrive.

Contrast to this these eaters of children. Blood drips from their teeth and nails. Four thousand years have they worshipped Moloch by his many names and shrieked his creed from high places in the iron hills and from hollows sealed deep within the earth. They dream of discord and distress, and terror is their hymn. Yes, there is evil.

And there is good. Though we find little in this world that is truly pure, we do find virtue in a single act of sacrifice. There is no honor, in mere killing. In killing there is only, at best, necessity. Necessity is a duty, but doing only that which ought to be done is what all honorable men must do, without demanding notice for it. Young Jason Dunham would have expected no great tribute for doing what he did. But we could not remain worthy of his sacrifice, if we did not love him.

What hope of redress then, for such loss? What hope of answer? What hand might draw away the unsoothing veil and unite love with lost love? Well. We love life. Let us be thankful for our blessings. Anything more than this is faith, and as for that, we must, each of us, place our trust where we think it is owed.



Jack H said...

Bumped up in observance of the day.

Will C. said...

Love this post Jack...and I am glad that Petreaus has been able to brighten the horizon of Iraq's future.

The Merry Widow said...

I'm thinking more along the lines of Tammuz...

And blood will continue to flow as long as the sons and daughters of moloch/tammuz crawl along and weep for him.