To The Editor
OPEN LETTER TO AMERICAN HEROES
by Steven L. Travers
American Reporter Reader
San Anselmo, Calif.
SAN ANSELMO, Calif. -- To Our American Heroes: If this letter can give you some relief from the grinding hours spent on duty then I will have contributed some tiny portion compared to what you are doing for our country and for the world.
I served in the Army and was in the Reserves during the 1991 Persian Gulf War. My unit, based out of Orange County, Calif., was on alert and came close to getting called up. Had the war lasted longer, we surely would have been sent.
I want to let you know that I did not want to go. I was relieved when the war ended in victory for the U.S. I say this because I know how you feel. I am not worthy of being in your shadow. You are doing something very few people are capable of doing. You are doing something that is absolutely essential to the betterment of the world we live in here in the 21st Century.
You are helping not just to make America safer and more secure, but you are engaged in the good side of a fight that must be fought successfully in order to avoid the tragedies of the past centuries. Your efforts are helping all of civilization, not just the narrow prism of American self-interests.
I also want to say something else, and please understand this. I am a historian, and I view everything America does from this perspective. America is the greatest nation in the history of mankind. We are also, right now, the most powerful empire the world has ever known. A little over two centuries ago, we were a small group of agrarian colonies, separated by oceans from the centers of politics and commerce. Since then, we have risen to heights never seen in history.
We are more powerful and influential than the Roman Empire or the British Empire. We ended slavery on our shores, and while tyrants from Napoleon, to the Kaiser to Hitler to Stalin to Mao have fallen into the dustbin of history, we have continued to rise and thrive. Why? Is this just a mistake of history? Are we just lucky? I do not know your religious views, but it is my personal opinion that we have succeeded in this manner because we are divinely inspired and supported by a loving God who sanctions us to do His good works.
This being said, let me just emphasize that while great Americans include George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Dwight Eisenhower and Ronald Reagan, who deserve praise for helping us achieve our successes, and in saving the world from darkness, none of them could have earned these accolades without the dedicated work of our armed forces.
The work you are doing is part of the noblest of all traditions. It is a tradition that includes liberating a free America from colonial rule; uniting a divided country, freeing slaves and helping us live up to our creed; making the world safe for Democracy; kicking in the doors of concentration camps; and liberating millions from a Communist ideology responsible for the murder of 100 million human beings in a single century.
While America is undeniably an "empire," it might be appropriate to call us a "reluctant empire." We rule not out of fear, intimidation and military might (even though we have the strongest army ever assembled), but because our ideas and influence is embraced and joined by more people than any country's ever has.
We do not conquer, we liberate. We do not leave colonies, we leave partners. The very things some think make us weak - dissent and criticism - are our strengths, because when we continually emerge victorious we do so with greater legitimacy than has ever been achieved heretofore. This is why people from all over the world sacrifice everything to come to America, to desire to be part of what we are and have been for so long.
Now, we face the evil of terror. Will this be our last challenge? No, not likely. Once the War on Terror is won, we will have other fights. Possibly, creating freedom from fear, cruelty and disease in Africa will be our next crusade. But remember this, as you go about your duties every day: if men and women like you were doing then what you are doing now, the world for centuries could have been saved from tragedy after tragedy. Good and evil met in one huge confrontation in the 20th Century. Good won.
You are on the side of good.
Evil never goes away, however. What you are fighting now is evil in disguise. It has retreated, re-grouped and is trying to win by proxy. America is fighting it, and you are on the front lines of this fight. We will win this fight, just as we win whenever we put our minds to it. Years from now, you will look back at our victory with pride, knowing that you contributed as much to the world's freedom as the Minutemen, the Doughboys, and the Airborne on D-Day.
America is the world's leader. It is a hard job and we are in the middle of the hardest part of that job. We engage in activities that go far beyond our own security. We serve the interests of the entire world. This responsibility has been thrust upon us by our own historical success. No other country or organization is capable of handling this role.
While history is a pivotal part of what you are doing, I know that you are most concerned with survival, helping your buddies, and getting home to your loved ones. I pray that you and all your friends will come home safely. I hope this letter gives you some comfort, and an idea of what you are fighting for. There are those who agree with what I say, and those who disagree. You may disagree. That is your right. It is the right to study, to gain unfettered knowledge, and to express a free opinion, that is important, and it is this that you fight for.
God bless you, and God bless America!
Steven R. Travers
San Anselmo, Calif.