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Thursday, January 05, 2006

Will The Post Print This?

In yesterday's Washington Post, and editorial piece called "A Life Wasted" was printed, written by the father of a Marine who was killed in Iraq. I have no idea what it's like to lose a child in a war, but I have lost shipmates to terror. So while I mourn his loss, I disagree with Mr. Schroeder on Iraq being a waste.

A few weeks ago, the father of Sgt. Stokely wrote an article for Mudville Gazette on the loss of his son. He has expanded that article, and submitted it to the editors of the Washington Post as a rebuttal to Mr. Schoeder.

In hopes of fairness, and equal treatment of both points of view, I hope the Post will print his editorial piece also. He has given me permission to post here what he sent to the editors.

I thought I'd share my thoughts as the dad of an American Soldier killed in action four plus months ago, very near in time to Mr. Schroeder's son. My son was standing cover flank for two buddies checking out a suspicous location in the roadway while on patrol at 2:20 A.M. 16 Aug when an IED exploded. He was the only one killed. Two other soldiers suffered serious injuries and are now home on permanent medical leave and both are expected to make full recoveries after they finish med rehab and surgery.

Life is hard when you lose a child; you have children and you think of them burying you and not the other way around. But war brings a new perspective to the parent child relationship, for the parent is put in a position that they are unable to fulfill a basic parental instinct - protect your child. Losing a child, especially in war and especially with media attention focused on your loss, is difficult. I find myself counting time in weeks - every Monday at 6:20 p.m., I silently remember, maybe with a tear, that X weeks ago Mike died at what was 2:20 a.m. his time on Tuesday; then as the evening goes on, I think, Mike was dead X hours at this time; I then awake on what is my Tuesday mornng, and at 7:00 a.m., I remember the call to my home and the voice saying "Mr. Stokely, this is Maj. Hulsey - please come to the door, your dog won't let us up the driveway and we need to speak to you" and then remembering my fast gait to the driveway and asking, before they can say anything "is my boy dead" and the the words they spoke, with humble sadness in the eyes of Maj. Hulsey and the Chaplin that was with him "we regret to inform you...." But the pain,while there, is more manageable. I think it must be like the rigors and harshness of war - it is always the same, you just adjust.

No pity for me is needed, for as a friend said to me, I am lucky to have a son who has brought such honor to his father and the entire family. My son was a man who had a heart that cared deeply for others, and they likewise cared for him. In all of this, so many stories of his simple kindness have been shared with us and touched us. My favorite is the one where he and his buddies had been on continuous duty for several days (their normal day was 22 hours long). He and one of his fellow soldiers had to pull guard duty after being on missions for that continuous period without any sleep. He told his buddy to take a nap and he would stand watch and then they would swap out. For the next several hours, he let his buddy sleep while he stood the whole watch.

We miss him so much. We hurt inside. But we burst with pride in our son and brother. His memory will not fade nor will our love for him. When Mike was just becoming a teenager, I tried to imagine what he would be one day. I often told people I wasn't sure where life would take him, but I knew he would do something different and be very well known in his chosen field. I never dreamed he would become an American Hero who would serve his country so well.

Mike Stokely joined the Georgia National Guard in the spring of 2000, as a junior in high school, going to boot camp that summer, and then returning to complete his senior year, graduating in 2001. Before joining, he and I discussed that the only guarantee of his six year hitch was that he would be on foriegn soil and fight in a war. We then discussed the real meaning of fighting in war -kill or be killed. In response to his question on what I thought as to whether he should join or not, I asked him two questions, with the admonition that his answers had to be an unequivolcal yes: 1) if called upon by your country to kill, are you prepared to kill another person in war? 2) remembering that it is the other side's job to kill you, are you prepared to be killed for your country? His response to both questions was an unequivocal yes.

A week before Mike Stokely died on August 16, in his last telphone call to me, we again discussed the dangers of the war. In fact, I told him that when he came home on leave in a few weeks, I might carry out what I considered doing before he left - crippling him by hitting him in the shins with a ball bat. He very calmly, and firmly said these words to me "Dad, if it is God's will for me to die, he will take me whereever I am at, whether it be in the safety of my home or in the dangers of war in Iraq. Dad you can't hide me from God and if I have to die, I'd rather die serving my country than anything I can imagine. If my time is now, then I am ready."

For whatever reason, the last few days what Cindy Sheehan said "Casey didn't die for a just cause" has been on my mind. Maybe it is because some people have felt comfortable enough four months out to ask me how I felt about Mike's death and whether I thought the cause was "just" enough to justify his sacrifice.

My response is that Mike didn't die for a "just cause", he died JUST BECAUSE - just because he loved his country enough to want to serve it since the time he was in middle school; just because he loved his family enough to want to protect them; just because he loved his friends enough that he would rather fight a war "there" than here; just because he believed in our order of government whereby the civilian government rules and the military obeys, and when the President, with lawful authority(and the approval of Congress, including Republicans and Democrats), calls upon soldiers to go and fight, he believed it was not only his duty, but his honor to go; just because he wouldn't let his fellow soldiers - his guys - go it alone; and just because he wanted to do for others - the Iraqi people - what he would do for his own country.

A good friend of our family, Charles Carmical, wrote these words in tribute to Mike - “Would I lay down my life for a country to defend? I willing would if it housed my family and friends."

Mike Stokely didn't die for a just cause, he died for a lot of just causes, including the ones I set out above. I wish I were fit to tie his shoe laces but I am fortunate enough to have a son who believed in God, family, duty, honor and country and who certainly turned out to be the better of the two of us.

Robert Stokely, Lucky and Proud to be the Dad of
SGT Michael "Mike" James Stokely, KIA Operation Iraqi Freedom 16 Aug 05
2nd Platoon, E Troop 108th CAV 48h Brigaded GA NATL GUARD
15 miles south / southwest of Baghdad near Yusufiyah / IED

At the suggestion of Lone Pony, here is where you can submit a letter to the Post.

Any blogger reading who would like to help pressure the Post to print the other side's view of this, feel free to reprint this on your blog. While I normally don't do open trackbacks, I'm making an exception for this, and will put all links in the main body of this message later tonight.

Macsmind has already called for balance at the Post on this.
Tracked back at Don Surber , Michelle Malkin

The following Bloggers have done trackbacks, links to, or mentioned this story:
Politics of A Patriot , Knockin' On the Golden Door, Hooah Wife, Tidbits and Treasures,
Peakah's Provocations, Atlas Shrugs, Lone Pony, Some Soldiers Mom, This That And Frog Hair,
The Truth Laid Bear, Camp Katrina, The Educated Shoprat God Bless America ,
People Covered In Fish, Riehl World View , Cutting Edge of Ecstasy Politechnical
The Thunder Run, PJ Maximum Uber Conservative, DoD Daily News, Southern Sass
The Bos'un Locker, You Betcha I'm A Proud Army Mom, Brainsters Blog, Junkyard Blog,
Blogmeister USA FreedomNow, Bos'un On MSN, Life, Florida Whatever,
Ramblings From The Rock, Yippee Ki Yay! McBride Media Matters, Grizzly's Den, Calvary Scout, Rants of a College Kid,

Love2Boogie has a great perspective on this, from a Marine who's been to that city.

1/07/2006:
The latest letter to the Post from Mr. Stokely is here.

Update 1/05/2006:
The sound of crickets chriping is the response I've received from the editor at the post. I'm out of town but checking my voicemail and e-mail regularly. Not sure if Mr. Stokely has had a response.

Many more have linked to those listed above, so I'm sure the word is getting out. I'm working on the e-mail to the Editors and will let you know if I hear anything back from them.

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24Comments:

Blogger Little Miss Chatterbox said...

Awesome letter. Brought tears to my eyes.

9:48 AM  
Blogger Peakah said...

I'm with ya dawg... time to get writing!

10:57 AM  
Blogger jgf said...

My heros now include this man and his son.

11:38 AM  
Blogger Mahndisa S. Rigmaiden said...

01 04 06

Awwww this makes a gal cry too:( Good post CP. What I like is that you have provided two different points of view and it is up to the reader to investigate. I like that type of objectivity in reporting. And I do think that Cindy Sheehan is a grief pimp who has exploited the (honorable) death of her son, I can also see how the grief can tear a person up inside. So much so that they don't even think rationally. Now she isn't a good example, but I am sure you know what I mean. I DO want our war to end because I hate killing and wars in general, but we need to DO THE JOB and have a PLAN before we do it. I have a sneaky suspicion that we will have a presence in IRaq and Afghanistan for twenty years or more. And Iran and Pakistan are starting to scare me... Good post CP:)

3:09 PM  
Blogger Corie said...

This was a wonderful read CP. I do hope it gets published. Please let us know if it does.
Thank you for sharing!

3:43 PM  
Blogger Rebekah said...

Awesome column. Though bereaved military families who support the war don't seem to count to the msm.

5:44 PM  
Blogger shoprat said...

I have linked to your post, though I have yet to figure out how to use backtracks.

6:22 PM  
Blogger Crazy Politico said...

Thanks to all who have tracked back or linked to the post. If I missed someone let me know, and I'll get your link in here.

Shoprat- no problem, Blogger lets me know when another user links to the posts.

Mahndisa - I feel the same way as you about Iraq. Leaving the job half finished makes no sense at all.

Rebekah, that is why projects like this are important. The more folks that spread messages like Mr. Stokely's around the more likely the media won't be able to ignore it.

lgf & Chatterbox, Ditto to both of you (even though I don't listen to Dittoman).

7:03 PM  
Blogger Griz said...

Damn,that makes me mad. As a soldier's father, I will defend him and all others against anyone who seeks to defame or diminish their contributions and sacrifice in the service of their country.

I posted your entry in it's entirety on my blog. I hope that you don't mind.

May God be with the idiots that attempt to use or target my son in any way.

8:24 PM  
Blogger Griz said...

I thought that I should clarify my comment above. I hate the idea that anyone would seek to profit, in any way, or promote any cause, by using the honorable death of a soldier and calling it a 'waste of life'.

It is a life worth celebrating and certainly of infinitly more value than some Journalism school grad, who thinks that he knows what it's like to be an American and has no fucking (sorry) idea of what 'service to your country' and "a waste of life" really mean. A waste of life is writing for some rag like the Post. PS: I have a degree in Journalism and now I know why I never became a 'reporter'. Sorry, I just needed to vent.

8:33 PM  
Blogger Crazy Politico said...

Griz, and other readers.

Understand the writer of the original op/ed piece is the father of the Marine it is written about.

I have no beef with him, and I grieve with him for the loss of his son. I can't imagine losing one of my children, I know the man is hurting.

My beef is with the Washington Post's editorial board, and the fact that they haven't printed a letter, like the one here from Mr. Stokely.

So all readers, Refrain From Attacks On Mr. Schroeder instead, pray for him and his family in their time of this great loss.

Bob

9:01 PM  
Blogger Griz said...

Understood. My hostility was not directed at Mr. Schroeder. It was directed at the 'journalists' aka the Editorial board of the Post. They have a responsiblity to publish all letters of military parents. They don't seem to care enough to do so.

9:12 PM  
Blogger Pet Campbell said...

My heart goes out to these families.

These are heros, lets give them and their families the respect they deserve.

7:51 AM  
Blogger Xanthippas said...

I don't really understand this call to give "equal time" to a father who supports the war. There are countless stories, interviews, etc., concerning families who lost loved ones in the war who whole-heartedly support the war. In fact, my impression from the media is that is the majority viewpoint among families of soldiers killed or wounded in Iraq. It seems to me like this leter the Post published represents the minority viewpoint, and even publishing it in a forum such as the Post doesn't begin to "balance" the two sides.

10:57 AM  
Blogger Uber said...

I can't say for certain whether or not families of service members who support the task at hand is being given equal attention to those who do not (it sure seems like they are not, depending on which news organization) but the achievements of these service members most definitely are hardly being highlighted by most news organizations.

Their great achievements are being played down or ignored completely while their tribulations are highlighted by the media in general and there's nothing honorable about that.

That was a good read, CP. This man has lost his son who gave his life to his country, the least we can do is hear his accomplishments and remember him for that and that's what this is about, imo.

3:28 PM  
Blogger Crazy Politico said...

Xanthippas - In editorial coverage, if you read the Post, you'll find that very little attention is given to anyone who supports the mission in Iraq. My unofficial count a few months ago on the news end of it was 5:1 against to for continuing there.

Uber- Smaller local papers are pretty good at covering the local folks when they do something good. The Post, NY Times, LA Times, the biggest of the papers are very poor at covering it.

10:04 PM  
Blogger Magnolia said...

Well, if I figured out this linking thing,I posted this beautiful letter on my blog. Thanks for making it available.
MagZ

12:01 AM  
Blogger auspatriotman said...

Dear Washngton Post
I've just read a story about SGT Michael "Mike" James Stokely that his proud father had written to you. He has challanged you to print this story as a balanced report. Clearly the war has produced domestic idealogical tensions. It always has. This war imparticular even more so because of the current generation now sacrificing for our country as my father did in WWII. My father knew what he was doing as a young man, like SGT Stokely. And as a dedicated man to his family and this country he did so, so that, today we who are natualized citizens of this country and those who have come here since can boast how it is great to live in the "land of the free and the home of the brave."

Because of the persuasion of your paper you elected to run with this story submitted by Schroeder
then turns his understandable anger towards our President and the Military in general.

On the other hand there is Mr. Stokely equally berieved but is exposing his honest sincere relationship with his son Mike. He asked him some tough honest questions. He answered as most would in like kind even as Auggie would have. It would be only fair to present his story in full as you did with Schroeder. I like many concerned Americans would hope you do so.

Best Regards,

Lets see what happens. "hoo-hah!"

12:08 AM  
Blogger The Conservative UAW Guy said...

Great job.
I hope they print it.

4:38 AM  
Blogger the trooper's friend said...

It's a wonderful letter and deserves to be printed as an op-ed. But whether the dinosaur WaPo prints it or not, it's already got wide circulation in the medium that's supplanting the dead tree boyz. That's more than good enough.

11:49 AM  
Blogger Crazy Politico said...

Troopers Friend, while I agree it's getting a lot of reading on the net I'd still like the "dead tree boyz" to print it, for now they are still considered the "media" by a lot of folks.

2:03 PM  
Blogger the trooper's friend said...

I agree they should take it. Maybe you can help embarrass them into it.

8:32 PM  
Blogger Freedomnow said...

Griz from Standbesideher.blogspot.com posted a letter from the Post declining to publish the letter.

They said they "are unable to print it"...hmmmmm.......

I guess they must have checked with al Qaeda and bin Laden forbade them from printing it.

9:02 PM  
Blogger Crazy Politico said...

The Post has declined to print his letter.

Stay tuned to this channel for information tomorrow night.

11:19 PM  

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