By: E&P Staff
As we noted last week, Stephen E. Wright, editorial page editor and a vice president at the San Jose Mercury News, recently wrote a moving column (republished at many other papers) about sending his son off to Iraq. Wright revealed that he opposes the war and favors a U.S. withdrawal. His 18-year-old son does not agree with that but Wright, as he wrote, very strongly supports the troops — especially his boy.
Now Wright has returned with a column about the reaction to the earlier piece. Here is an excerpt.
So many of the emails started with, “I’m writing this as tears continue to fall.” Some spoke of their own experience saying goodbye to a soldier son or daughter headed for Iraq. Others recalled similar moments four decades ago, when the destination was Vietnam. A few said I would be responsible if my soldier-son got killed.
Clearly, a column I wrote, published in the San Jose Mercury News on March 21, struck a chord. …
More than 400 people responded to the column…Writers were unanimous in their support for our troops, BUT many were unsure about how to say thank you. Roughly 90 percent said withdrawing from Iraq is in the best interest of the soldiers and the people of Iraq; they said they don’t know why we are still there and doubt we’ll ever “win.”
The most touching emails were from those who had lost sons in Iraq or were the proud parents or grandparents of soldiers currently there. Most feel alone, helpless, angry and sad. They live with the war 24/7. Some avoid the news, while others read and watch anything they can, hoping for some information ? or, if they’re really lucky, a picture ? of their loved one or his or her unit. Most of the families say their friends don’t really understand what they are going through.
But families without a direct connection to the war also wrote of pain and anguish. They worry about what the world will be like when their young children get older. They wish that more decision makers in Washington, D.C., had a personal stake in the war. They pray for the troops, and now, for my son.
Vietnam veterans and their parents wrote, too. The vets of that unpopular war recalled making the drive to an airport and saying goodbye to their parents as though it was yesterday. Most said they wish it were not happening again, though they are thankful that at least this time people no longer blame the soldiers.
Roughly 10 percent of the emails were from folks who feel strongly that any public sentiment for withdrawal from Iraq will only “embolden the enemy” and endanger our soldier sons and daughters. One person called my wife and me “cowards” who raised a “hero.” A surprising number of these were that personal.
Last week our son, not yet 19, was promoted to Private Second Class in Kuwait. The next day he rolled into Iraq. He’s proud to be an Army Cavalry Scout and to serve his country, and my wife and I are proud to be his parents. We’re gratified that so many people call our son and all the soldiers true patriots, and I’m grateful these patriots are on so many prayer lists.
Related E&P story: Editor Describes Sending His Son Off To A War He Does Not Believe In