Memorial Day is a time to remember soldiers who gave their lives and some non-combatant heroes as well, such as Michael Kelly.
Kelly was an established journalist on the left when he started seeing value in conservative positions. He was an established editor when he decided to imbed himself with U.S. troops at the beginning of the Iraq war.
Kelly's mother Marguerite posted recently an online article (www.theatlantic.com) about her son's willingness to enter into danger: "He believed in this war ... He knew what Saddam Hussein had done to that country. He had seen all those gaudy, golden palaces he had built for himself while Iraqi children went hungry; he had met some of the families whose lives he had wrecked and he knew about the killings he had ordered -- the hundreds of thousands of killings."
Mrs. Kelly continued, "Mike was in Iraq in 2003 because he had been in Kuwait City on Liberation Day in 1991. He saw what Saddam's troops had done. He saw the rape rooms. He saw bodies in the morgue with their eyes gouged out; their skin scalded; their lives taken in terrible ways. He was there because he believed there are times -- not many, but some -- when it is more moral to go to war than to wait for more people to be gassed, more mass graves to be dug."
Believing that this war was worthwhile, Kelly journeyed to report on it. Theodore Roosevelt had come to a similar conclusion in 1898 when he was a nationally influential politician who favored war with Spain: He joined the Army, saying "my power for good, whatever it may be, would be gone if I didn't try to live up to the doctrines I have tried to preach." It all worked out for Roosevelt. He became a war hero and then president. It didn't work out for Kelly. He was killed soon after the war began.
Kelly's death, along with thousands of others, raises the question of theodicy: Why massively bad things happen in a world created and sustained by our good and omnipotent God. Kelly's reason for heading toward death suggests a partial answer to that question: He knew that those who fear giving up the pleasures God has bestowed upon them tend to cry, "peace, peace," when there is no peace -- and they thus become enablers of disaster.
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