- The Washington Times - Thursday, December 1, 2005

And so the debate continues. Should U.S. forces pull out of Iraq? It has gone from a question of when to one of how. Quickly, or in a staged manner? Doesn’t matter, just bring them home, sooner the better.

Now think about it; American troops have only been in Iraq for a relatively short period of time. As President Bush noted in a recent speech: “By any standard or precedent of history, Iraq has made incredible political progress ? from tyranny, to liberation, to national elections, to the writing of a constitution, in the space of two-and-a-half years.”

Two-and-a-half years into our Civil War, Fredericksburg was over and Chancellorsville was in the offing; into World War II, GIs were fighting in Normandy hedgerows and combat in the Marianas. In both cases, hard-won victories had not yet been achieved, but they would be. Now, a mere two-and-a-half years into Operation Iraqi Freedom, the central theater for the global war on terror, calls for retreat are being heard. They must not be heeded.

At this time 222 years ago, British troops were finally departing American soil after forces under Cornwallis were defeated at Yorktown in 1781. The war for our independence lasted six years, marked by initial defeats and retreats. What if those volunteers and regular Continental Army forces, the “true blues,” hadn’t persevered?

A sizeable British army under Gen. Clinton remained in New York until late 1783. After it set sail, American troops marched through the city. As Richard M. Ketchum tells us in his excellent book “Victory At Yorktown”: “A New Yorker, a woman used to seeing British troops in their perfect uniforms, was astonished seeing the victorious Americans, ‘ill clad and weather-beaten, (they) made a forlorn appearance; but they were our troops and as I looked at them and thought upon all they had done and suffered for us, my heart and eyes were full, and I admired and gloried in them the more.’ ” Those men were the “one-third true blue,” as John Adams described the percentage of Americans who fought for and gained our independence. The rest were “the Tories and the timid.”

Those men — New Englanders, including Glover’s “Marblehead Mariners,” New Yorkers, Marylanders, Delaware Continentals, Pennsylvanians, Dan Morgan’s Virginia sharpshooters and Henry Knox’s artillerymen, among others — had persevered. And then, Yorktown. Mr. Ketchum sets the scene: “A surprising number of these men had six years of punishing, bloody warfare behind them; six years of hardship and suffering, hunger and tedium, no pay, and unparalleled neglect by their government and fellow Americans… some of these men standing under the hot Virginia sun were survivors of the fights at Concord and Bunker Hill, had been part of the humiliating loss of New York and the retreat across New Jersey, and endured the killing winters of Morristown and Valley Forge. They had experienced the… all too rare victories of Trenton and Princeton and Saratoga… yet somehow, they had endured to participate in and savor this glorious moment.”

If the patriot few had not persevered, this blessed country, this redoubtable republic, would not exist. We are still free because their uniformed descendants have fought and died to keep us so.

Twenty-first-century true blues are at this very moment fighting in Iraq, Afghanistan and serving elsewhere in the global war on terror. At this pivotal point in our history, with craven calls for retreat polluting the air, Americans must honor their service and sacrifice, and remain true blue themselves, anchoring their perseverance in their hallowed revolutionary roots until victory — as Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld recently described it, “unconditional, unapologetic and unyielding” — is achieved.

John B. Dwyer is a military historian, author and contributor to the American Thinker.

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