While the U.S. military was busy protecting civilians in Baghdad, elitists condemned them for not guarding a museum. Human rights organizations criticize U.S. forces every chance they get, while turning a blind eye to the evidence they discover about Saddam's torture chambers. U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan attacked the United States' military campaign, saying the Iraqi people have "paid a heavy price," but he ignores the "heavy price" the Iraqi people unknowingly paid to the United Nations, which corrupted the Oil for Food program. A professor at Columbia University said he only viewed as heroes those "who find ways that help defeat the U.S. military," and Hollywood war analysts confidently predicted that the Iraqi people would help this anti-American professor realize his dream.
Those who condemn and criticize U.S. troops and their leaders should be ashamed of themselves, and those who predicted disaster should know just how wrong they were.
Most of the major leadership targets that have been captured in Iraq have been seized not only because of good U.S. intelligence but because Iraqi civilians have provided additional information to soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines about the locations of terrorists, Baath Party officials and Republican Guard units, as well as munitions depots.
Bravery, honor, courage, dedication. Even these noble words don't do justice in describing the magnificent military campaign carried out by the troops and the character with which they did it. Simply put, they moved further, faster and with fewer casualties than any military force in world history, while liberating a repressed and tortured people from a brutal dictator. Their careful planning and precision execution helped to minimize damage to civilians, their communities and religious institutions -- and for all that, the Iraqi people are grateful.
I know Hollywood and the media don't want to hear it, but when U.S. troops would approach a new city or village, they were greeted by Iraqi civilians standing along the road waving and chanting things like, "Bush No. 1" and "Go Bush." Flowers and flags were the children's choice for welcoming their liberators.
There was even one old man in a village north of Baghdad -- an impoverished farmer -- who wanted to express his appreciation for the Marines. There were seven of us in the group, and this man brought us something that most Americans eat every day but to which we attach little significance. For this poor Iraqi farmer, the seven eggs he gave us were as valuable as gold and silver. He would not allow us to refuse his extraordinary generosity. As he watched us eat the omelet that was cooked with his eggs, the tear in his eye and the smile on his face transcended any language barriers or cultural and religious differences, and he said to the Marines, "Thank you for coming and bringing freedom with you."
The story of the courage exhibited by American soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines and Coast Guardsmen during the liberation of Iraq, and the affection displayed for them by those they liberated, would make a great movie. Unfortunately, Hollywood no longer employs the writers, producers or directors who can capture on the big screen such sentiments of heroism and appreciation for freedom. Perhaps they could if those sentiments first existed in their hearts.
Oliver North is a nationally syndicated columnist, the host of War Stories on the Fox News Channel, the author of the new novel Heroes Proved and the co-founder of Freedom Alliance, an organization that provides college scholarships to the children of U.S. military personnel killed or permanently disabled in the line of duty. Join Oliver North in Israel by going to www.olivernorthisrael.com.
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