On Memorial Day, we pause and commemorate the brave men and women who have served our country and paid the ultimate price. Unfortunately in these hyper-political times, the men and women of our armed forces are sometimes treated like political pawns, rather than the ones who fight to preserve our way of life and the freedoms that we are blessed with.
Americans shouldn’t need a national holiday to make them stop and appreciate those who put it all on the line to keep us safe and free, our brave soldiers should in our thoughts and prayers every day.
I believe that one of the best ways that we can honor those who gave their lives defending our country is to show our support to our current soldiers. It is in that spirit that I’m excited to announce that The Iowa Republican will be following Gabe Haugland as he goes through Army officer training, and eventually Ranger School.
The following article is written by Gabe. It shows the difficult decisions that those who serve are often asked to make. I also think it is a great way to introduce to readers to Gabe before his blog post start to appear on The Iowa Republican this week.
“I’m a man of my convictions, Call me wrong, call me right,
But I bring my better angels to every fight. You may not like where I’m going,
But you’ll sure know where I stand.
Hate me if you want to, Love me if you can.”–Toby Keith
For the past few months, I have been wrestling with an agonizing decision. You see, at this juncture in my life, I have reached the point in my Army career where I must decide between being an Army lawyer (JAG) or an Infantry officer. I have a beautiful wife and, if it’s possible, an even more beautiful 10 month old daughter, and yet…
…I have chosen the Infantry.
After graduating from the University of Iowa in 2004, I enlisted into the 194th Infantry Detachment (LRS) (ABN) unit of the Iowa National Guard. I raised my right hand and swore an oath to the President and the Constitution to defend against all enemies, foreign and domestic. The men I serve with joined for the same reason. I grew to love them for their courage, professionalism, tenacity, and honor. And I desired to one day serve with them in taking the fight to the enemies of the United States of America.
At the time that I enlisted in the Iowa Guard, I had already been accepted to Drake Law School, and so I decided to enroll in Army ROTC and pursue my officer commission, which I received on December 15, 2007. One of the biggest decisions of my life was yet to come: would I be an Army lawyer, advising commanders on their legal limitations and capabilities at war, or would I be a direct-action Infantry officer, bringing to bear the full might of U.S. firepower upon our enemies?
But in order to understand how I have arrived at my decision, take a moment to look back on that fateful day in September of 2001.
I believe that we were all attacked on 9/11, as any one of us had just as much chance as any other to be on those planes that crashed at Ground Zero, the Pentagon and an empty field in Pennsylvania. A small part of each one of us died with those who gave their lives on 9/11. Any one of us could’ve heard the last words of “Allahu Akbar!” as fanatical Islamic extremists hijacked our plane and sent us all hurtling towards earth. Any one of us could’ve responded with “Let’s Roll”. In the days to come, we would become familiar with names and places like Osama Bin Laden, al-Qaeda and Afghanistan’s Tora Bora and Spin Ghar mountain range. We would learn that evil men armed only with box cutters were able to hold hostage entire airplanes full of American citizens.
One man, Pat Tillman, gave up a lucrative career in the NFL to become an Army Ranger, and gave his life in service to this country fighting the Taliban and al-Qaeda in Afghanistan.
In November 2001, shortly after the 9/11 attacks, Osama Bin Laden said “When people see a strong horse and a weak horse, by nature they like the strong horse.” He believes we Americans are weak.
The truth is though, that our entire military is our “strong horse”, and our Infantry soldiers are often called upon to do some of the toughest work. For the past two years, I have been recruiting officers into the Iowa Army National Guard via ROTC, advising them that our state and our nation have a great need for Infantry officers and encouraging them to consider that option. I must, in good conscience, do the same.
I will not permit Osama Bin Laden to see me as a “weak horse.”
Above all else, I am a man of faith. I believe that Jesus Christ died on the cross for my sins and those of the entire world. And at times I have trouble knowing that as an Infantry officer, I may be called upon to send evil men to meet their Maker. To be honest, I am troubled by the thought that they may send me to meet Mine. But then I remember Cyd Mizell, an aid-worker to Afghanistan who was kidnapped at the hands of the Taliban in February 2008. At today’s date, her well-being is still uncertain. Her story is a constant reminder to me that Liberty and Freedom must triumph over tyranny and oppression.
Radical Islam is on the move, and only the American soldier (and a few tough Brits) stands in its way. Consider this: the American soldier, many of whom are Christian, volunteers to lay down his life fighting for his country and the security of those who are persecuted by the Taliban and, as a result, a Muslim world may experience freedom. As Christ once said “No greater love have any man but to lay down his life for a friend.”
While in law school, I also learned of the persecution of Christians by Muslim extremists beyond the traditional confines of the Middle East. As a law clerk in a firm in Des Moines that specialized in immigration law, I was assigned to the case of an Indonesian man seeking asylum in the United States. He was a Christian convert turned missionary to his own land, and he had been attacked by fanatic Muslim members of “Lashkar Jihad”, who slashed at him with machetes as he sped through town on his motorcycle trying to reach his home.
Rough men must stand ready to visit justice on those that would harm us so that others may sleep peacefully in their beds at night. Rough men must stand ready so that some day, my wife and daughter will not live in an America where they are afraid to use public transportation for fear of suicide bombers like those in London; so that they are not afraid to go to a fine hotel for fear of gunman like those in Mumbai; so that they are not afraid to go to school for fear of being held hostage like those in Afghanistan; so that they are not afraid to go to a sporting event for fear of gunmen like those in Pakistan; and so that they are not afraid to share their faith like the convert in Indonesia.
In 2006, after reflecting on the increasing Islamization of Europe, Dutch humanist Oscar van den Boogard said, “I am not a warrior, and who is? I have never learned to fight for my freedom. I was only good at enjoying it.” God forbid I ever share his sentiment.
The Bible tells us that Isaiah heard the voice of the Lord asking “Whom shall I send?” and Isaiah answered, “Here I am, send me!” Today, I hear that same calling, the voice of my fellow citizens asking “Whom shall we send?”
I will answer: “Here I am, send me! I am the Infantry, FOLLOW ME!”
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