Here is what I found at the end of this elegy to sacrifice and patriotism:

"These were our parents. What in God`s name have we let happen?
"I guess we are the last generation to see, or even remember anything like these? Whatever happened? Political correctness (or re-education ") happened, lack of God`s name happened, lack of personal responsibility happened, lack of personal integrity and honesty happened, lack of respect and loyalty to our country happened, lack of being an American happened.
"Did all of these die along with common sense?!?
I`m proud to be an American!
If you are too ". pass it along, in English!

What planet does the writer of this ugly message live on? Hasn`t he or she seen all the Support the Troops ribbons and placards, witnessed Americans buying cellphones for our soldiers, hasn`t seen film series like Generation Kill? What the writer has seen is anti-war Americans exercising the right to dissent, and the writer despises them. He is unable to distinguish patriotism from politics. He thinks only patriots of his persuasion have the right to call themselves patriots.

If the writer had considered Generation Kill on television with a fair mind he would have seen yet another generation of heroic Americans shedding their blood in defense of that right to dissent and he would have noticed that for some of them English is a second language. And if he had watched the trailers he would have heard two retired Marine generals say these men and women are every bit as brave and competent as their predecessors. The old posters he emailed, wonderful as they are, show not one African-American, not one Asian. They harken back to a segregated military.

What this writer doesn`t like is the very reason we have soldiers and sailors and airmen in the first place, to defend the right of Americans to dissent from a popular view. Of course, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are no longer so popular, and I imagine that turn of events also offends the person who sent the posters.

The men depicted in these famous posters are done no service by the language used in this message. Americans are as patriotic as they have ever been, but that doesn`t mean they must agree with every politician who wants to send our children to war. Every American army in every generation has had soldiers for whom English is a second language, including the Revolutionary War. Should we despise their accents? Their color?

Our entire history is one of dissent and reconciliation. Southerners quit the union to defend their own way of life, and when they were defeated they rejoined the union. We have worked hard ever since for a reconciliation. Not every American wished to break with the English king, but the rebels won and the union bound itself together. There was terrible dissent over our presence in Vietnam, but we bound up our wounds. We are a nation of dissenters, of differences. That is our strength, but the writer of these anonymous insults seems to think it is a character defect. He seems to confuse homogeneity with patriotism, and in so doing he positions himself close to eugenicists, many of whom were Nazis.

If we can no longer tolerate dissent we can no longer tolerate democracy. The soldiers in Generation Kill are of different colors, religions and political persuasions. Some have grave doubts about the war, and some don`t. All serve nobly, but the message from this anonymous propagandist is that something has gone terribly wrong with our character as a nation. I don`t believe it for a minute. Watch Generation Kill for the first time or again and again, as I have, and you will see exactly why our differences make us strong. A sergeant shouts, Vote Republican. " Some take this as irony, but the writer says the sergeant means it. The sergeant`s driver keeps up a daft riff of sardonic comments about the war. That is our face, the face of America "white, black, brown, nuanced, diverse "and standing by each other.

To this bearer of doubts about the current state of our character I would say, Your politics have blinded you. We are as tough and brave and patriotic as we have always been, but that doesn`t mean I have to agree with you. It does mean, if we are to preserve the union, that I have to respect your opinion and your right to have one, even if you are green and I`m purple.

 

Djelloul (jeh-lool) Marbrook was born in 1934 in Algiers to a Bedouin father and an American painter. He grew up in Brooklyn, West Islip and Manhattan, New York, where he attended Dwight Preparatory School and Columbia. He then served in the U.S. Navy.

His book of poems, Far From Algiers, won the Stan and Tom Wick Poetry Prize from Kent State University in 2007 and was published in 2008. His story, Artists Hill, adapted from the second novel of an unpublished trilogy, won the Literal Latté first prize in fiction in 2008. His poems have been published in The American Poetry Review, Barrow Street, poemeleon, The Same, and other journals. The pioneering e-book publisher, Online Originals (UK), published his novella, Alice MIller`s Room, in 1999.

He worked as a reporter for The Providence Journal and as an editor for The Elmira (NY) Star-Gazette, The Baltimore Sun, The Winston-Salem Journal & Sentinel and The Washington Star. Later he worked as executive editor of four small dailies in northeast Ohio and two medium-size dailies in northern New Jersey.

Del`s book, Far From Algiers: http://upress.kent.edu/books/Marbrook_D.htm

New review of Far from Algiers: http://www.rattle.com/blog/2009/05/far-from-algiers-by-djelloul-marbrook/

Artists Hill, Literal Latté`s fiction first prize: http://www.literal-latte.com/author/djelloulmarbrook/

His blog: http://www.djelloulmarbrook.com

His mother`s art: http://www.juanitaguccione.com

His aunt`s art: http://www.irenericepereira.com