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Dear American soldier,
You don't know me, but I know who you are, and I will not
You are deploying from Fort Carson and Fort Hood and Fort Bliss
and Fort Stewart. You hail from Middletown and Middleboro and Greenville and
Redding and Thousand Oaks and Maple Tree. You are white, black, brown and
yellow -- but always Americans first.
You are with the 3rd Brigade Combat Team and the 10th Combat
Support Hospital and the 571st Air Ambulance Medical Evacuation Company. You
are with the 1st Cavalry Division and the 3rd Infantry Division and the
"Iron Horse" 4th Infantry Division. You are Black Knights with the 2nd
Battalion, 5th Cavalry Regiment. You are engineers, drivers and medics in
the 13th Corps Support Command.
Your motto is "We Will," "Steadfast and Loyal," "Swift and
Deadly," "Always Prepared," "First to Fight," and "No Task Too Tough."
You will be joined overseas by thousands of sailors and Marines
on the USS Boxer and USS Bonhomme Richard and USS Cleveland and USS Dubuque
and USS Anchorage and USS Comstock and USS Pearl Harbor. You will get
support in the Gulf from an airborne infantry brigade, a squadron of F-117
Nighthawk stealth fighters, and two squadrons of F-16CJ radar-jamming
You have friends on the USS Constellation in the Persian Gulf,
and the USS Harry S. Truman in the Mediterranean Sea, and the carrier USS
Abraham Lincoln stationed at Perth, Australia, and the USNS Yano en route to
the Red Sea, and the aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson on its way to a
training mission in the Pacific.
You have classmates and colleagues and cousins who died at the
Pentagon and in the Twin Towers on September 11. You have buddies who took
bullets over the past year in Afghanistan and Kuwait and the Philippines
during Operation Enduring Freedom. You have uncles and brothers and fathers
and grandfathers who sacrificed their lives in past wars.
Their deaths haunt you. Their heroism inspires you. Their
footsteps beckon and you cannot resist.
You have wives who are tough as nails and husbands who are
enormously proud. You have toddlers who know the colors of the American flag
and grade-schoolers who have memorized Army verses like these:
The hardest job, the dirtiest job
Since ever war began
Is picking 'em up and laying 'em down
The job of an infantryman
No mission too difficult
No sacrifice too great
Our duty to the nation
Is the first we're here to state
Our doughboys come from Brooklyn
Our gunners from Vermont
Our signals from Fort Monmouth
Our engineers DuPont
Against the foes of freedom
We fight for liberty
We make no peace with tyrants
On land or on the sea
As you pack your green Army duffel bags, press your desert
camouflage fatigues, polish your boots and kiss your families goodbye,
please take these words with you:
Thank you. Thank you for answering the call to arms. Thank you
for being fit and young and brave and willing. Thank you for loving freedom
enough to put your own life on the line to defend it.
Pay no attention to Sean Penn and Sheryl Crow and Baghdad Babs.
Tune out the half-naked loonies and Flower Power leftovers. Stand tall.
Fight hard. And know that there are legions of Americans who are boundlessly
grateful for what you have volunteered to do.
We know who you are. We will not forget. And we will pray every
day for your safe return. Hoo-ah!
(The Department of Defense's online thank-you note to the men
and women of the U.S. military can be signed at