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John Campbell

John Campbell (R-Irvine) is a California State Senator representing the 35th District in Orange County. He represents the cities of Newport Beach, Laguna Beach, Irvine, Costa Mesa, Huntington Beach, Seal Beach and Cypress. He can be reached through his Senate website and through the website for his California Senate campaign. [go to Campbell index]

Service And Sacrifice
A soldier’s view of the Iraq War...
[John Campbell] 6/6/05

During most of 2004, we heard a lot about the war in Iraq. We heard that it was ill-conceived; that we were losing; that Iraqis would never be able to govern themselves; that they all hate us; that our military was ill-equipped.

Since Election Day, the mainstream press has gone quiet about Iraq. Of course, much of that journalistic activity during 2004 was intended to make President Bush look bad and to elect John Kerry as president.

That effort failed. But the war in Iraq is not failing.

Three weeks ago, I received an unsolicited letter from 25-year old Army Specialist E-4 Josh Venner. Josh is serving in Baghdad as part of the 3rd Infantry Division, 2nd Brigade. I have known Josh and his parents since he was a young boy. I met them through a hobby in which I once engaged - Civil War reenactment. Re-enactors have a particularly acute understanding of history and the significance of the trials and contributions of the individual soldier to shaping our world.

Josh also has a unique perspective from Baghdad, and I can’t help but wonder how many dozens of stories like these exist. Here are just a few excerpts from Josh’s letter:

On his day of departure and the great vision for the conflict: “As I crammed my last duffel bag with an extra supply of newly issued Army winter gear, most of which now seems unlikely ever to be used, the immense scope of the president’s new grand plan for the Middle East seemed almost unattainable.

“The idea that the American people, as well as all other nations, will be safe from the threat of global terrorism only after the advent of peace, democracy and freedom growing throughout the globe is a truly earth-shattering policy, and likewise, a monumental endeavor. I only hoped that our equipment, leadership and team would be up to the task, and that I was ready to endure the tough times ahead.”

On the coalition: “These men and women, both military and civilian, had all come together for one common purpose - to relieve much of the stress built up on the Arab community by a lifetime of tyranny and oppression, thus making the world safer for civilization.”

On the terrorism and violence: “Imagine what your opinion would be of California if everything you knew about that far-off land had been based on what you saw in the daily high-speed chase videos, crime reports, and the murder trials that are shown constantly on television. But, for many all across the world, that is exactly the standard of information concerning Iraq that they have had available to form their opinions about this particular front in the global war on terrorism.”

On support from home: “Groups of Americans back in the states, organized by the internet and talk radio, have seen to it to generously supply all of us with a continual stream of care packages. Boxes have been arriving, from all corners of the nation, laden with the basic luxuries that make every day away from home more bearable - snacks, magazines, DVDs, calling cards, socks, books, and hygiene products . . . All of us here truly appreciate the items, but as I remember the poor treatment that my father’s generation of soldiers received in Southeast Asia, I consider the thought of the gratitude and support from the good people back home to be the greatest gift that a soldier can receive out at the front.”

On whether he wants to be there: “I am proud to be here in Baghdad and couldn’t imagine being anywhere else at this point in history. Despite the occasional hardships and danger, if I had to make the decision to enlist again, I would choose the exact same path, requesting nothing but this mission . . . With a whole host of varied democratic reforms recently appearing all over the Middle East, including once outwardly uncooperative states like Egypt, Palestine, Afghanistan and Saudi Arabia, combined with the continual progress being achieved daily in Iraq, I remain vigilantly optimistic about our chances for success and a better future for everyone.”

Josh is merely 25, but he gets it more clearly than many 60-year-old politicians. He’s enduring risks and hardship, but he sees the purpose with more resolve than comfortable anchors on the evening news.

During the Civil War, the “Howard Deans” and “Dan Rathers” of that day did not understand the importance of winning the conflict. But its grand purpose was clear to many soldiers then, and it is clear to historians now. The war against terror will be no different, now, or 150 years from now.

Thank you, Specialist Josh Venner, for the unvarnished truth. Thank you for your understanding and commitment. Thank you for your service and your sacrifice. We, and history, stand in your debt. CRO



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