A picture is worth a thousand words

Posted: May 06, 2005 12:00 AM

EN ROUTE TO IRAQ  -- My bosses at FOX News have sent me on assignment to the "sandbox," as our troops have taken to calling Iraq. There, I will spend time with some of the most impressive young men and women this country has ever produced. These soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines and Guardsmen never cease to amaze me. Their dedication, enthusiasm and resilience, even in the unforgiving heat and atmosphere of an Iraqi summer, are second to none.

 On the day before my departure, The Washington Times carried a front-page photo of an unidentified American soldier cradling a young Iraqi child in his arms. The child was severely wounded by terrorists in Mosul, who used a car bomb to plow through a group of neighborhood children to attack an American patrol. The blast killed two children and injured 15 other Iraqis. Some might say the photo is an example of the horrors of war. It would more accurately be described as portraying the horrors of terrorism.

 There is something else striking about this photo. The soldier portrayed, though donned with the accoutrements of battle, is cradling the child in his arms with love and care, affection and tenderness. He has wrapped the young Iraqi child in a blanket to keep her warm; to give her comfort; to protect her dignity. The soldier is holding the child close to him, with his head nestled in close to her small body. It looks as though the soldier is either weeping or praying over her. In fact, it's likely he's doing both. You get the sense from the emotion displayed in the photo that, when not just a soldier, this man is a father, the kind of dad that probably takes the whole Little League team out for ice cream after a game.

 The love and respect this stranger in an American uniform shows for the wounded Iraqi child is evident. It is yet another example of the many profound acts of kindness, charity and bravery that have been displayed throughout the war by young Americans in uniform. We've heard the stories or seen the photos of a Marine sharing his last drop of water with a thirsty Iraqi child. The Internet -- unlike many of our major newspapers -- is abuzz with pictures of American warriors sharing laughs with Iraqi youth and weeping over the shattered victims of terrorists. I've had the great fortune to witness many of these acts of kindness firsthand.

 Unfortunately, if you are a college student or a law school student in America today, you are unlikely to know just how remarkable your peers who serve in the military are. Worse yet, your college administrators deny you the opportunity to decide for yourself whether or not you'd like to join their ranks. The Ivory Tower academic elitists in many of America's most "prestigious" colleges and universities today are waging war against the military and working to keep recruiters off of their campuses.

 This week, the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to take up a case in which "elite" universities are suing the Pentagon to keep military recruiters off their campuses so they don't "corrupt" the academic environment. Their beef is a federal statute known as the Solomon Amendment, originally passed in 1994, which provides that federal funding may be withheld from institutions of higher education that refuse military recruiters the same opportunities afforded to recruiters from other companies.

 Thirty law schools have joined under the banner of the Forum for Academic and Institutional Rights, claiming that they are being forced by the Solomon Amendment to "actively support military recruiters" who engage in "discriminatory hiring practices." The target of their protest, they claim, is the Clinton administration's "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy toward open homosexual service in the military.

 In fact, colleges and universities have been trying to keep military recruiters and ROTC programs off campus for decades. Harvard, the school leading the charge against the Solomon Amendment, banished ROTC in 1969, forcing cadets to walk across town to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology for the past 36 years. Yale, Stanford, Columbia and Brown are among many other institutions that have shunned ROTC for decades.

 Today's military relies on educated individuals joining the ranks as surgeons, JAG lawyers, chaplains and engineers. These vital roles could more easily and efficiently be filled but for the bitter opposition on campuses by elitist professors, students and administrators.

 Ironically, their freedom to protest is defended by the very people they are protesting. And, in so doing, they are spreading ill will toward people like Mark Bieger. Mark Bieger is a father of three, and according to his wife, Amy, "is very compassionate and has a huge heart." Bieger is also a graduate of West Point, a major in the United States Army and, it was revealed a few days later, the soldier shown in the photograph described above.

 Michael Yon, a freelance journalist embedded with Bieger's unit, told FOX News that after the terrorist attack in the Mosul neighborhood, "there were so many wounded children around. Maj. Bieger found that little girl, and he and the medic worked the best they could" to save her life. Yon reported that Bieger made a command decision to use some of the helicopter firepower that might have been needed against the terrorists to transfer the wounded girl to a medical unit. Unfortunately, to Bieger's distress, the young girl died.

 But, Yon said, the unit later returned to the same neighborhood and "the people welcomed (the American military) into their homes. The children came out on the streets, waving, smiling. We were very welcomed in that neighborhood," he said.

 It's more than a shame that honorable, decent, caring, compassionate and heroic people like Maj. Mark Bieger and his fellow soldiers aren't welcomed on America's college campuses.