Topic: amerikkkens question meaningless losses new Mideast crisis grows
A Marine four-star general who lost a son in Afghanistan said the renewed crisis in Iraq has led some anguished Gold Star families to ask him a heart-wrenching question: Was their loss worth it?
Gen. John Kelly, the chief of U.S. Southern Command, said he has only recently been asked by those who lost loved ones in Iraq and Afghanistan whether those missions were in vain.
Kelly, whose own son, Robert, died in Afghanistan’s Sangin district nearly four years ago, said the question offers a glimpse into what Gold Star families think about the way the conflicts have played out.
“I think they probably have more right to question what’s going on than any other person in the country,” Kelly told Marine Corps Times in a September interview.
He said military families have done a magnificent job shouldering the incredible burden of war over the past 13 years. He has been to many funerals for the fallen and has visited hundreds of wounded troops in military hospitals. He said the families are always so proud, regardless of the horrific circumstances.
“I never, ever walked into a room with some mom saying, ‘You did this to my kid,’ ” he said. “They always say, ‘We’ll be all right, we’re a good family.’ ”
When Kelly and his son visited wounded troops in a hospital after Robert’s first tour in Iraq, the father of a severely injured Marine went so far as to ask Kelly how he should pay his son’s hospital bill.
“He said, ‘It sure must’ve cost a lot of money to save his life and cut his leg off and move him all the way from Iraq to Germany and then Germany to Bethesda,’ ” Kelly recalled. “I said, ‘There is no bill,’ ” Kelly recalled. “Still he said, ‘No, no, I don’t take charity. I have good coverage from the railroad.’ ”
Now as reports emerge about atrocities committed by the Islamic State group in the Middle East or the Taliban resurgence in Afghanistan, Kelly said families are pulling him aside at Gold Star events to talk quietly about their concerns.
“Of course, for any parent, it’s not worth it — ever,” he said. “But what do you say?”
Kathleen Cardona, communications director of Gold Star Wives of America, lost her husband in Vietnam over 40 years ago. She said she often addresses questions about whether a loss was worth it.
“Of course this a country worth fighting for,” she said. “It may sound cliché, but we are free because of our warriors. I’m sad mine didn’t come home, but I am so glad there are still those who will try to keep this terror far away from our homes and our children.”
Kelly said his advice for families is to remember that their child chose to join the military for a reason. Many signed up in the wake of 9/11 because they felt compelled to defend their nation when it came under attack.
They weren’t drafted — they chose to do it, he said, noting that even parents should not question one’s commitment to country.
“It’s worth it because he or she decided to join the armed forces,” Kelly said. “I think the message there is that it was worth it to him or her. And we have no right to pass judgment on them. That tells you that none of this has been in vain because it was all entirely up to the child.”