- The Washington Times - Saturday, January 25, 2003

Dear American soldier,You don't know me, but I know who you are, and I will not forget.

You are deploying from Fort Carson and Fort Hood and Fort Bliss and Fort Stewart. You hail from Middletown and Middleboro and Greenville and Redding and Thousand Oaks and Maple Tree. You are white, black, brown and yellow but always Americans first.

You are with the 3rd Brigade Combat Team and the 10th Combat Support Hospital and the 571st Air Ambulance Medical Evacuation Company. You are with the 1st Cavalry Division and the 3rd Infantry Division and the "Iron Horse" 4th Infantry Division. You are Black Knights with the 2nd Battalion, 5th Cavalry Regiment. You are engineers, drivers and medics in the 13th Corps Support Command.

Your motto is "We Will," "Steadfast and Loyal," "Swift and Deadly," "Always Prepared," "First to Fight," and "No Task Too Tough."

You will be joined overseas by thousands of sailors and Marines on the USS Boxer and USS Bonhomme Richard and USS Cleveland and USS Dubuque and USS Anchorage and USS Comstock and USS Pearl Harbor. You will get support in the Gulf from an airborne infantry brigade, a squadron of F-117 Nighthawk stealth fighters, and two squadrons of F-16CJ radar-jamming fighters.

You have friends on the USS Constellation in the Persian Gulf, and the USS Harry S. Truman in the Mediterranean Sea, and the carrier USS Abraham Lincoln stationed at Perth, Australia, and the USNS Yano en route to the Red Sea, and the aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson on its way to a training mission in the Pacific.

You have classmates and colleagues and cousins who died at the Pentagon and in the Twin Towers on September 11, 2001. You have buddies who took bullets over the past year in Afghanistan and Kuwait and the Philippines during Operation Enduring Freedom. You have uncles and brothers and fathers and grandfathers who sacrificed their lives in past wars.

Their deaths haunt you. Their heroism inspires you. Their footsteps beckon and you cannot resist.

You have wives who are tough as nails and husbands who are enormously proud. You have toddlers who know the colors of the American flag and grade-schoolers who have memorized Army verses like these:

The hardest job, the dirtiest job

Since ever war began

Is picking 'em up and laying 'em down

The job of an infantryman

No mission too difficult

No sacrifice too great

Our duty to the nation

Is the first we're here to state

Our doughboys come from Brooklyn

Our gunners from Vermont

Our signals from Fort Monmouth

Our engineers DuPont

Against the foes of freedom

We fight for liberty

We make no peace with tyrants

On land or on the sea.

As you pack your green Army duffel bags, press your desert camouflage fatigues, polish your boots and kiss your families goodbye, please take these words with you:

Thank you. Thank you for answering the call to arms. Thank you for being fit and young and brave and willing. Thank you for loving freedom enough to put your own life on the line to defend it.

Pay no attention to Sean Penn and Sheryl Crow and Baghdad Babs. Tune out the half-naked loonies and Flower Power leftovers. Stand tall. Fight hard. And know there are legions of Americans who are boundlessly grateful for what you have volunteered to do.

We know who you are. We will not forget. And we will pray every day for your safe return. Hoo-ah.

(The Department of Defense's online thank-you note to the men and women of the U.S. military can be signed at https://www.defendamerica.mil/nmam.html.)

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