Robert Morrison

The book tells stories of Marines in combat in a graphic and realistic way. When some brave Marines are killed, Carey Cash does not sugar-coat their deaths, or minimize the intense pain that all their brothers feel. But there is no blood-and-gore for sensation’s sake. Carey Cash’s word portraits help us to know these warriors. We know them as living, breathing, vibrant personalities.

Ten years after the invasion and the toppling of Saddam’s statue, we can thank God for the end of this tyrant’s misrule in Baghdad. But the media obsessed on abuses by a handful of U.S. troops at Abu Ghraib prison. We heard about that incident for months.

There’s a better prison story. Carey Cash writes about villagers crying out: pree-sun! pree-sun! Lt. Cash’s unit liberates hundreds of boys from a living hell. These little boys are the sons of Iraqis considered unreliable by Saddam’s regime. Some of these pitiful lads are as young as eight. They are all emaciated, ragged, and dirty. They have been starved and tortured by Saddam and when they turned fifteen, he put them in the front lines of his army – cannon fodder for Iranians or Americans making war on Iraq.

Why is it I’ve never heard of this heroic rescue of hundreds by U.S. forces? Carey Cash’s book is the only record I’ve ever seen of this powerful and noble episode.

Our media moguls seem to get a lot of things wrong. For example there is a moving scene in the major movie by Stephen Spielberg, Saving Private Ryan. Gen. George C. Marshall, the Army Chief of Staff, is depicted reading a letter from Abraham Lincoln to a widowed mother of five sons from Massachusetts. Informed that all five of her sons have been killed in battle, the president tenders in his Letter to Mrs. Bixby a lasting tribute, the concluding lines of which Gen. Marshall has committed to memory. But it is from this experience that the military policy of not taking a widow’s sole surviving son stems. Saving Private Ryan was in truth never about saving just one American GI. It was about saving that foot soldier’s country.

We can view the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan in the same way. We can with care distinguish the policies pursued from the brave men who bear the burden of battle for our sake.

Americans in battle do not fight for Fallujah as much as they fight for Philadelphia; they fight for Kansas more than for Kandahar. Our all-volunteer armed forces understand that it is for Americans and our liberties that they are willing to lay down their lives.

That is why the country came to understand – some later than others – that our Vietnam veterans deserved honor whatever one thought of the Vietnam War. And so it is with the Gulf War, the Iraq War, and the war in Afghanistan. Our Marines, our soldiers, and all of those who risked everything but honor so we may go about our lives, are worthy of deepest gratitude and highest respect.

Carey Cash says the hero of his book is the Lord. That is why his title, A Table in the Presence, is so compelling. His real experience was the fulfillment of Psalm 23. If you read only one book about America’s war in Iraq, read this one. They say there are no atheists in foxholes. Read Carey Cash’s book and you will know why.

Robert Morrison

Robert Morrison is a senior fellow for policy studies at the Family Research Council.