A "Thank You" To Our Soldiers


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Airwolf
March 18, 2003, 12:46 AM
http://english.chosun.com/w21data/html/news/200303/200303160003.html

U.S. Soldier's Job a Thankless One


These days it is rare to hear a positive word about America - and especially about its soldiers. More often than not, America is condemned as an "arrogant" nation and its soldiers written off as uneducated rednecks or war-hungry simpletons. The U.S. soldier, it seems, is not worthy of any praise or respect. Almost unheard of is the person who has approached an American soldier and said one simple thing: Thank you. That's right, "Thank you." All around the world American servicemen and women have defended the nations of their allies and put their lives on the line, yet those who have most benefited from the American presence have chosen to turn their backs on their protectors.

They have forgotten who stood by them during the worst of times and provided the stability for their countries to flourish. Take the case of France. When Germany threatened France in World War I, American doughboys came to the rescue. When France was overrun by the Nazi menace some three decades later, thousands of American soldiers gave their lives for France's freedom.

After World War II, it was American aid in the form of the Marshall Plan which propped up the French economy, and the American nuclear shield which protected Europe from the Soviet Union. Were it not for the U.S. military, the shame of Vichy France might still be a reality today. Yet instead of thanking America and its soldiers, the French today thumb their noses at their former liberators in the U.N. Security Council and on the streets of Paris. The French have suddenly become the saviors of world peace; Americans have become warmongers and militarists. Thousands of French citizens even believe 9-11 was a conspiracy hatched by the U.S. government.

Germany is another interesting case. U.S. troops were pivotal in the defeat of Hitler and creation of a democratic German state. NATO and the presence of some 70,000 U.S. troops then ensured West Germany would not be swallowed by the former communist East Bloc. Following the collapse of the U.S.S.R. expedited by former U.S. President Ronald Reagan's strident anti-communist policies, Germany was able to reunify. In 1990, the economically languishing East was at last able to join the prosperous and dynamic West. Yet judging by the recent rise in anti-American political rhetoric in Germany and that country's determination to hamstring American foreign policy over Iraq, you would think Iraq was Germany's most trusted ally and not the United States.

Which brings us to South Korea, America's most inscrutable ally. In recent months, Koreans have voiced their hatred against the U.S. military by burning American flags, shouting anti-U.S. slogans, and storming American military installations. USFK soldiers have been pummeled with concrete blocks, spat on, refused service in restaurants, abducted by mobs, and even knifed in underpasses.

To date, Korean authorities have failed to bring to justice any of the individuals who have physically harmed or threatened these soldiers. A lone Korean anchorwoman who criticized demonstrators for damaging U.S. military facilities and throwing rocks at soldiers was promptly fired from her position. Only now that U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld has indicated that Uncle Sam may withdraw or reposition its 37,000 troops has President Roh Moo-hyun begun stressing the importance of the U.S.-R.O.K. alliance. Suddenly, the USFK and Korea have become "friends" again.

But the "friendship" is an ambivalent one. American servicemen are simply viewed by Cheong Wa Dae as a useful buffer, or "tripwire," against North Korean aggression. They are seen as a necessary evil to promote stability and foreign investment in the region. USFK servicemen and women are not lauded for their valor or willingness to die in South Korea's defense. The 54,000 heroes who perished helping keep South Korea free in the Korean War have been all but forgotten.

On the streets and in private homes and offices, many South Koreans still view U.S. servicemen and women with suspicion if not outright hostility. Young Koreans in particular claim American soldiers are a mere tool of U.S. interests, some going so far as to view the USFK as an occupying army. Rather than offering thanks, nationalists heap scorn on the U.S. military for allegedly dividing the Korean peninsula.

Meanwhile, North Korea's death camps and dangerous provocations are glossed over by the South Korean media in the name of brotherly love. Kim Jong-il's one-million man army would never do harm to South Korea, many Koreans maintain. It was George Bush's "axis of evil" speech that has pushed the Dear Leader's back to the wall.

Being a soldier is a thankless job. As individuals in prosperous democratic countries go about their daily lives, they are apt to take their freedom for granted. Few people take the time to reflect on the past and acknowledge those who have helped their nations in time of need. Thanking a soldier - and an American one at that - is the last thing the average person might think of doing.

Let us change this sad state of affairs. Wherever you live, tell an American soldier you appreciate what he or she has done for you. Show your appreciation with a handshake or even a letter. While the fruits of your act may not be readily apparent, you will leave an impression that will never be forgotten. And if you are not American, it will mean even more, for at no other time has America needed friends than now.

Thank you, American soldier. May God bless you and shield you from harm. Your cause is just and you are in our thoughts and prayers.

Owen Rathbone is a Canadian resident of Seoul. He can be contacted at: >owenrathbone@yahoo.com

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Blackhawk
March 18, 2003, 02:11 AM
Being a soldier is a thankless job. As individuals in prosperous democratic countries go about their daily lives, they are apt to take their freedom for granted. Few people take the time to reflect on the past and acknowledge those who have helped their nations in time of need. Thanking a soldier - and an American one at that - is the last thing the average person might think of doing.He's absolutely right about that! :(

LawDog
March 18, 2003, 04:25 PM
Amen, and off to General.

LawDog

461
March 18, 2003, 04:30 PM
May God bless them all.

DeltaElite
March 18, 2003, 04:43 PM
Thank you to all the Allied soldiers and Godspeed.

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