My turn: Respect military, troops' efforts

Posted: Sunday, November 25, 2007

My name is Sgt. Leo Librando and I'm currently serving with the U.S. Marines. This is my response to the articles I have read in the Juneau Empire about serving in the military.

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First of all, throughout our history, our military has been called on numerous times for the sake of our country. We fought the British for this land for what we now call the USA. It is we, the military servicemen and women, who gave this God-loving country our freedoms.

We have sacrificed our blood, sweat and tears just to give the American people our way of life. Now, you are discouraging our younger generation to serve our country? Let me ask you this, if we all discourage the military, who is going to be answering the call if Osama and his buddies come our way and harm us again? Who's going to do it?

We have all signed on the dotted line to be in the military. Yes, there are hardships in the military. Yes, there are unfortunate events that can lead a Marine, soldier, airman or sailor to think, "Why did I do this?" I've thought about this every single day. I thought about this when I was in San Diego getting trained to be a Marine.

I could have taken the easier why and stayed civilian. I could have been fortunate enough to spend the holidays with my family and friends. I could have my freedom of living my own way. I thought about this when I was in Iraq being the platoon sergeant in charge of 80 young Marines. But I choose to serve. I choose to serve because it's my way of paying back for what this country has done for my family.

This country made our lives easier and more convenient. I choose to serve because of those terrorists trying to destroy our way of life. I have signed a blank paycheck to this country stating that I will gladly give my life for the freedom for this country.

The military definitely deserves respect, not the discouragement that some of you are giving. Don't be stupid and tell me that if you join the military, you can guarantee yourself a free pass of not going to a war zone. That is our main mission.

If you are so scared of having your kids serve, tell them, but please don't write an article in the Empire and discourage it. We take that as a slap in the face. We all have our closing moments of losing our lives serving in a war zone, but we won't hesitate to do it again. And you know why? For you? For our family and friends?

I'd rather bear the burden of sacrifice and pain of combat than put it on my family and my friends. Serving the military is more than just a job. If you join us just for that, then sorry, you're in for a nightmare. Whatever happened to pride in this country? Or are you just too selfish to do it? If it wasn't for our veterans of World War II, we would have been speaking German and Japanese right now. The bottom line is, without our military, freedom as we know it wouldn't be here, plain and simple.

Ronald Reagan said, "Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn't pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same."

• Sgt. Leo G. Librando serves as a satellite communication technician with the 9th Communications Battalion Service Company, U.S. Marines. He is a Juneau resident.

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