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Back in February I posted a piece written by Sgt. Eddie Jeffers, a soldier serving in Iraq. The article was "Hope Rides Alone" and it really touched my heart.
Today I got the sad news that this brave young man was killed while serving our country in Iraq. Frank Salvato of The New Media Journal wrote the following...
At 7am on September 19, 2007 in Ramadi, Iraq, on a sweltering Iraqi summer day, a good friend whom I knew but never met, a true American patriot and a hero died. US Army Sergeant Eddie Jeffers died in the service of our country, fighting the enemy on Iraqi soil so that we don’t have to fight them on ours. He died protecting the innocent among the Iraqis so that they might benefit from the same principles and ideology that afford us the freedom to even consider debating the legitimacy of the conflict in which he fought.
In tribute to the life and honor of Sgt. Eddie Jeffers, I am posting his own words "Hope Rides Alone".
May God Bless The Family and Loved Ones of Sgt. Eddie Jeffers. We mourn the loss of another hero but thank God for men like him.
Hope Rides Alone by Sgt. Eddie Jeffers - written February 1, 2007
I stare out into the darkness from my post, and I watch the city burn to the ground. I smell the familiar smells, I walk through the familiar rubble, and I look at the frightened faces that watch me pass down the streets of their neighborhoods. My nerves hardly rest; my hands are steady on a device that has been given to me from my government for the purpose of taking the lives of others.
I sweat, and I am tired. My back aches from the loads I carry. Young American boys look to me to direct them in a manner that will someday allow them to see their families again...and yet, I too, am just a boy....my age not but a few years more than that of the ones I lead. I am stressed, I am scared, and I am paranoid...because death is everywhere. It waits for me, it calls to me from around street corners and windows, and it is always there.
There are the demons that follow me, and tempt me into thoughts and actions that are not my own...but that are necessary for survival. I've made compromises with my humanity. And I am not alone in this. Miles from me are my brethren in this world, who walk in the same streets...who feel the same things, whether they admit to it or not.
And to think, I volunteered for this...
And I am ignorant to the rest of the world...or so I thought.
But even thousands of miles away, in Ramadi, Iraq, the cries and screams and complaints of the ungrateful reach me. In a year, I will be thrust back into society from a life and mentality that doesn't fit your average man. And then, I will be alone. And then, I will walk down the streets of America, and see the yellow ribbon stickers on the cars of the same people who compare our President to Hitler.
I will watch the television and watch the Cindy Sheehans, and the Al Frankens, and the rest of the ignorant sheep of America spout off their mouths about a subject they know nothing about. It is their right, however, and it is a right that is defended by hundreds of thousands of boys and girls scattered across the world, far from home. I use the word boys and girls, because that's what they are. In the Army, the average age of the infantryman is nineteen years old. The average rank of soldiers killed in action is Private First Class.
People like Cindy Sheehan are ignorant. Not just to this war, but to the results of their idiotic ramblings, or at least I hope they are. They don't realize its effects on this war. In this war, there are no Geneva Conventions, no cease fires. Medics and Chaplains are not spared from the enemy's brutality because it's against the rules. I can only imagine the horrors a military Chaplain would experience at the hands of the enemy. The enemy slinks in the shadows and fights a coward’s war against us. It is effective though, as many men and women have died since the start of this war. And the memory of their service to America is tainted by the inconsiderate remarks on our nation's news outlets. And every day, the enemy changes...only now, the enemy is becoming something new. The enemy is transitioning from the Muslim extremists to Americans. The enemy is becoming the very people whom we defend with our lives. And they do not realize it. But in denouncing our actions, denouncing our leaders, denouncing the war we live and fight, they are isolating the military from society...and they are becoming our enemy.
Democrats and peace activists like to toss the word "quagmire" around and compare this war to Vietnam. In a way they are right, this war is becoming like Vietnam. Not the actual war, but in the isolation of country and military. America is not a nation at war; they are a nation with its military at war. Like it or not, we are here, some of us for our second, or third times; some even for their fourth and so on. Americans are so concerned now with politics, that it is interfering with our war.
Terrorists cut the heads off of American citizens on the internet...and there is no outrage, but an American soldier kills an Iraqi in the midst of battle, and there are investigations, and sometimes soldiers are even jailed...for doing their job.
It is absolutely sickening to me to think our country has come to this. Why are we so obsessed with the bad news? Why will people stop at nothing to be against this war, no matter how much evidence of the good we've done is thrown in their face? When is the last time CNN or MSNBC or CBS reported the opening of schools and hospitals in Iraq? Or the leaders of terror cells being detained or killed? It's all happening, but people will not let up their hatred of President Bush. They will ignore the good news, because it just might show people that Bush was right.
America has lost its will to fight. It has lost its will to defend what is right and just in the world. The crazy thing of it all is that the American people have not even been asked to sacrifice a single thing. It’s not like World War II, where people rationed food and turned in cars to be made into metal for tanks. The American people have not been asked to sacrifice anything. Unless you are in the military or the family member of a servicemember, its life as usual...the war doesn't affect you.
But it affects us. And when it is over and the troops come home and they try to piece together what's left of them after their service...where will the detractors be then? Where will the Cindy Sheehans be to comfort and talk to soldiers and help them sort out the last couple years of their lives, most of which have been spent dodging death and wading through the deaths of their friends? They will be where they always are, somewhere far away, where the horrors of the world can't touch them. Somewhere where they can complain about things they will never experience in their lifetime; things that the young men and women of America have willingly taken upon their shoulders.
We are the hope of the Iraqi people. They want what everyone else wants in life: safety, security, somewhere to call home. They want a country that is safe to raise their children in. Not a place where their children will be abducted, raped and murdered if they do not comply with the terrorists demands. They want to live on, rebuild and prosper. And America has given them the opportunity, but only if we stay true to the cause and see it to its end. But the country must unite in this endeavor...we cannot place the burden on our military alone. We must all stand up and fight, whether in uniform or not. And supporting us is more than sticking yellow ribbon stickers on your cars. It's supporting our President, our troops and our cause.
Right now, the burden is all on the American soldiers. Right now, hope rides alone. But it can change, it must change. Because there is only failure and darkness ahead for us as a country, as a people, if it doesn't.
Let's stop all the political nonsense, let's stop all the bickering, let's stop all the bad news and let's stand and fight!
Isn't that what America is about anyway?
UPDATE 9/21/07: We know a little more about Sgt. Eddie Jeffers from this article at Rocky Mountain News. (hat tip to The Mad Pigeon)
Since Sept. 11, 2001, Sgt. Edmund J. "Eddie" Jeffers felt he had a higher calling.
After the terrorist attacks, Jeffers graduated from Dale-ville High School in Daleville, Ala., in 2002 and joined the Army Reserve.
"He believed he was on a mission from God," his father said by telephone from his home in Navar, Fla., explaining his son's decision to enlist in the military. "He was a devout Christian as we all are. He said, 'This is our generation's battle, you know,' and he believed in the cause. . . . He was my hero."
On Wednesday, Sgt. Jeffers, 23, died in Taqqadum, Iraq, when his vehicle rolled over, his father said Thursday.
It was the sergeant's second tour of duty when he died. He was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 9th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division, in Fort Carson.
What a loss, not only to his family and friends, but to the world. Please keep the family of Sgt. Eddie Jeffers in your prayers.
UPDATE #2: 9/22/07
More information is coming to light about Sgt Eddie Jeffers. "Hope Rides Alone" is not the only thoughts he put down into words. He wrote two more pieces that were published on the Internet but didn't get as wide a play as "Hope". Both were written after "Hope". Gazing at the Flag has all 3 pieces posted on their site.
Freedom Feels Good February 10, 2007
Here's a snip from Freedom Feels Good that is the best retort ever for those that say our Military heroes have sacrificed their lives in vain...
But more than anyone, I sometimes see futility in my actions. I fight, I kill, I scar myself emotionally, psychologically, and in some ways physically...and as I lay in the dark at night, I wonder what it's for. I wonder if the Iraqi people will ever get it together or if the country will collapse on itself whether I am here or not. It makes me angry, and a big part of me is content to let it fall apart. Part of me doesn't care what happens to this God-forsaken city after I leave it...as long as "me and my boys" make it out in one piece.
But that is the viewpoint of a man who wishes his actions to be in vain. I do not. I have lost very close friends over here. I don't want their lives to have been given in vain. Simply put, we are fighters. We are all in the same place for various reasons, for me, it's personal. I am in a modern day crusade to exterminate evil. People whose atrocities I cannot even begin to name cannot be allowed to exist among us. As long as these people are here, everything that is just and good is at risk.
Sgt Jeffers closes with this amazing bit of insight...
The Iraqis are capable of free government but we cannot call it quits because we think they aren't. Someone has to believe in them, someone has to help them out; someone has to provide the example. We are showing it to them. Some have taken it, many haven't, but it will spread...because freedom feels good.
The Real Deal in Ramadi April 17, 2007 - a boots on the ground look at the beginnings of the evolution of Ramadi.
According to an email from the father of Sgt. Eddie Jeffers posted at Gazing at the Flag...
In lieu of any flowers we are asking all donations be given to the Fisher House in memory of Eddie; he loved that charity.