During WWII, the government produced a documentary series entitled "Why We Fight." These films were produced by film director Frank Capra, and designed to educate military personnel on the reasons behind our involvement in the Second World War. Army Chief of Staff General George Marshall began the program after it was discovered that the first wave of pre-war draftees "haven't the slightest enthusiasm for this war or this cause."
Almost seven decades later, we no longer have that problem. I am continually impressed with the quality of our soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines, and their clear understanding of what's at stake in the War on Terror. They are determined to see the mission through, even as many in Washington express doubts about our ability to win the war, or (in the case of feckless John Kerry), even accuse the troops of "terrorizing" civilians. In fact, a latter-day version of "Why We Fight" should be aimed at American civilians and our political leaders, who (seemingly) don't have a clue about the realities of our current conflict.
But for a solider or Marine on the ground, war is more than geopolitics; it's about doing your job so the task gets done, taking care of your buddies, keeping faith with those above and below you in the chain of command, and an overridding belief that your cause and mission are just. Sgt Mike Stokley of the Georgia National Guard was such a man. He died on August 15, 2005 in Iraq, the victim of an IED attack. Sgt Stokley's father has written a letter about his son, posted in the Mudville Gazette. It is extraordinarily moving, and beautifully describes the ideals that led his son into the Army, and on to Iraq.
"Why We Fight" was not a mystery to Sgt Stokley; he did not view Iraq as a quagmire or a lost cause. He never lost hope in the cause that sent him to the Middle East and ultimately claimed his life. Sgt Stokley understood "Why We Fight." To honor his memory--and those of our other fallen heroes--we need follow their resolve, and see the mission through to victory. It is the only fitting tribute for such remarkable men.