I Was A Good Soldier

Grace and peace, Saints.

The Waco tragedy has been on my subconscious since I saw the documentary, “Waco Rules of Engagement” earlier this year. It tears me apart when I think that American soldiers and law enforcement personnel were responsible for the deaths of 76 unarmed civilians–many of whom were women, children and babies–with the full sanction of the President and the American government. And to think I used to wear the uniform.

One of the hardest things for me to come to terms with regarding the Waco Massacre is the fact that during the siege, which took place from February 28 to April 13 of 1993, I was a soldier stationed at Fort Carson, Colorado (a comparatively short distance from Waco, Texas), and I knew nothing about what was going on down there.
 
I can tell you right now that I don’t remember hearing anything at all about the government’s un-Constitutional military raid on the Branch Davidian church. I don’t remember seeing anything on the news at all regarding Waco. I cannot recall anyone with whom I associated discussing Waco. I have no memory of any of my co-workers talking about Waco. And I can’t recollect hearing any of my family members mentioning Waco. In short, my world was totally unaffected by Waco; which is odd, when you consider the fact that Waco established a precedent that should concern all freedom-loving Americans.

I must admit that as a soldier, I was pretty ignorant about what was going on with the rest of the world. My whole universe was my job, my family, and my hobbies. I didn’t know what the non-military segment of the population was doing, and I didn’t care (I say this to my shame). I was a good soldier.

In my opinion, most soldiers–especially in the enlisted ranks–don’t really appreciate the rights guaranteed Americans under the Constitution, because soldiers don’t enjoy many of those rights. Once he raises his right hand and takes the oath of enlistment, the soldier’s rights under the Constitution are effectively supplanted by privileges, and this affects his worldview.

I can tell you from personal experience that the words freedom, liberty, rights, patriotism, and Constitution are rarely, if ever, used in the military (I certainly never heard them when I served on active duty). And if they are now, I’d be willing to bet that they don’t mean the same thing for the soldier that they mean for the civilian.

For this reason, I believe that many, if not most soldiers are out of touch with what it really means to be an American. For them, the ultimate American is one who has served in the military. The statements of many active duty and retired soldiers on Facebook would quickly bear this out. If you have never served, they believe, then you don’t know what it really means to be an American.

Because of this mentality, the average soldier—especially in today’s military—is largely unaffected by what the average citizen faces. He is unaffected, for example, by the fact that Americans’ rights are being trampled upon, because the average soldier has never truly appreciated those rights himself. If he did, he probably wouldn’t have become a soldier.

I would argue, therefore, that a good soldier makes a poor American, because, in my experience, the qualities that make a good soldier are the very qualities that make a poor American.

A good soldier must out of necessity be either ignorant, indifferent or apathetic. He must be ignorant of or indifferent to the real reason he is being ordered to do this or that or go here or there; for if he knew the real reason he was being ordered to do this or that or go here or there, then he might question the propriety of doing this or that and going here or there. A good soldier must be ignorant of or indifferent to the problems faced by ordinary Americans and he can never be encouraged to keep his finger on the pulse of America, because to do so might effect his “judgment.” A good soldier must be ignorant of or indifferent to what is going on with his fellow Americans outside the gates of the military installation and how what they are going through relates to the Constitution and to his sworn duty in relation to the Constitution, because, if he knew those things, then he might identify more with what the folks outside the gate were doing than what he was doing; and that might affect his ability to perform his duty.

A good American, on the other hand, is anything but ignorant and indifferent. A good American always questions the propriety of his actions and ensures that whatever he is doing or being asked to do is in keeping with the values and principles upon which the Constitution is based, and he always makes sure that his actions fall on the same azimuth as his moral compass.  A good American cares about what is happening to his neighbor–American or not–and is concerned when his fellow creatures are being treated in a manner that is inconsistent with the ideals upon which this country was founded.

A good soldier can ill afford to believe in, let alone stand for, the uniquely American principles of freedom, liberty, and justice for all, because what he may be asked to do may run contrary to those principles and could very well involve depriving someone of the very liberties guaranteed in the Constitution–the document he is sworn “to support and defend.”

A good American however, knows that America was founded on the belief that all men are created equal and are endowed by our Creator with certain unalienable rights, among which are life and, most importantly, liberty. A good American values and covets his freedom above all else (except God), because all else (including the right to worship the God of his choice) depends on it; and he knows that when he stands up for the freedom of others—especially the defenseless—he is really standing up for his own freedom.

A good soldier can ill afford to have a conscience, and he doesn’t ask whether a command is right or wrong, moral or immoral; for, if he did, he may have a problem following that command.  A good American, on the other hand, must not only have a conscience, but he must also listen to it, follow it, and be guided by it. He is keenly aware that, as he must be ever watchful of those who would infringe upon the rights he so highly prizes, so must he always be careful not to infringe upon the rights of others.

A good American and a good soldier are incongruent as they do not serve the same master. This creates a problem, because, as the Lord Jesus said, a servant cannot serve two masters; for he will invariably love one and hate the other.

From February 23 to April 13, 1993, I was too busy being a good soldier to be a good American. I was too busy being a good soldier to know or even care that the government was trampling on the rights of the Branch Davidians—and, in fact, trampling on the very lives of those peace-loving people. I was too busy being a good soldier to care that those American citizens were guilty of no crime. And I was too busy being a good soldier to realize that I, my wife, and my children could just as easily have been among the seventy-six men, women and children who were mowed down by machine guns, suffocated by poisonous gas, crushed beneath muddy tank treads, and ultimately incinerated to ashes.  That could have been me, and that could have been you.

You must understand that contrary to the media’s portrayal of them, David Koresh and the Branch Davidians were a church: and churches (as well as the life and liberty of all American citizens) are supposed to be protected under the Constitution, not murdered by the government contrary to the Constitution.

Researcher Bill Cooper, in a speech he gave at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in 1993 said, ”If enough of us [American citizens] had just been standing there [outside Mount Carmel during the Waco siege] THOSE PEOPLE WOULD NOT BE DEAD.” Unfortunately, I was not standing there, and, tragically, those people are dead. Ultimately, therefore, I am as guilty of the deaths of the Branch Davidians as was the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms; the Federal Bureau of Investigation; and then Commander-and-Chief of the United States Armed Forces, President Bill Clinton.

I declare right now, before God and man, that I will never again be guilty of being a good soldier. I prefer to be a good Christian.

In closing, I would like to ask anyone who cares about what happened on April 13, 1993 to consider marking that date to remember the men, women, and especially children who were murdered that day.

Good night, and God bless you.

TSM

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