U.S. Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, was held by the Taliban in Afghanistan since June 30, 2009. He was released last week. Saturday evening President Obama appeared in the White House Rose Garden with Bergdahl’s parents, Robert and Jani. He hailed the sergeant’s recovery as a triumph of years of diplomacy.
“He wasn’t forgotten by his country,” Obama said. “The United States of America does not ever leave our men and women in uniform behind.”
This information was posted online a couple of days ago. It wasn’t long before people on social media were having their say. Those who hastily called this soldier a traitor should stop and think about what they are doing, the harm they may cause with such accusations. There is no proof of such allegations. What kind of country is this that so many people are so quick to judge others?
Imagine being 23 years old, in a foreign land where anyone and everyone can be your enemy. Can toss a grenade into your midst, IEDs are planted everywhere. You are at war with a cruel and relentless foe. Terrorists they may be, but they are the enemy in a war. We may never know the choice this young man made that caused him to be captured. How many choices did you make at that age that you now regret?
And all the others on social media complaining because we broke the rule of dealing with terrorists. There is another rule in play here and it trumps that one. Never leave a man behind. He wore the uniform of this country, he fought for this country. Let’s wait a while before accusing him, or complaining about the way in which he was brought home.
Do not make a Bobby Garwood of this young man. Those of you too young to know who that is, go here to read about him. You’ll also note that despite all the accusations he has never been formally charged with anything. Bobby Garwood’s case influenced me greatly, and that’s probably why I remember it so clearly. He returned home after over 8 years “in country” going through God knows what. His appearance with the media on television, the thousand yard stare in his dark eyes, his attempt to tell the world that we had indeed left men behind in Vietnam. That they were in several POW camps in Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos. He was immediately whisked away.
I tried to find out what happened to this man after all the hoopla and the accusations died down. I thought I remembered that he had committed suicide, but I can’t find anything online, though perhaps if I dug some more I could. He simply disappeared. And who can blame him?
Vietnam – Afghanistan. We haven’t learned much in more than thirty years. But it seems we remain quick to judge others who have endured what we can’t even imagine.