I Want My Great Great Great Grandchildren to be Proud
by Steve Mitchell
So, let me say something for the eternal, ephemeral, digital record; I don’t like terrorists.
Is that too much? Too political?
I do carry on.
Anyhow, 25 years ago, as a young Airman stationed in Greece, I lived, along with my fellow, young Airpeople, under a perpetual threat of terrorist attack. We weren’t allowed to wear our uniforms off base, except to travel to and from the base. We were trained to watch for suspicious activity. We were trained to be vigilant, vigilant, vigilant.
During the run up to first Gulf War, the threat in Greece was so high, Greek cab drivers, normally eager for our currency, wouldn’t stop for Americans. They wouldn’t even look our way.
During that time the squadron swapped our normal Dodge duty van for a nondescript Volvo van with bullet-proof glass and steel plating. The conventional wisdom was it’d stop small bullets, but be worthless against a grenade, worthless against a parked, car bomb.
And at one point, we were notified the Iraqi embassy had offered a $10,000 bounty for any American killed in Europe. It turned out there was no bounty, but…
Two days after I left Greece, a couple of months after the war, Greek terrorists killed an American GI outside his apartment. They’d planted a bomb in his water meter.
I heard he died in the ambulance, stuck in traffic, after about 40 minutes. I didn’t know him. I’d probably seen him around. There were only 1500 active duty Air Force at our base.
I don’t like terrorists.
And I understand the fear.
Nobody wants to be killed by an extremists terrorist.
I sure don’t want to be killed by an extremist terrorist.
I get it.
But, more than that, more than the fear, I don’t want to give any damn terrorist anything he/she wants.
They don’t have much in the way of real power, so they use fear to try to get me, and you, to change our behaviors to suit their needs.
Well, I’m not surrendering to their nonsense.
It’s bad enough we have to take our shoes off at the airport because one damned fool tried to blow his fool feet off, but now, our Governors and our members of Congress …..ugh, you know. It’s as if our politicians are using fear to try to get us to change our behaviors to suit their needs.
There’s no perspective, only hand wringing and fist shaking.
The odds of being killed by an extremist hiding amidst refugees is so small as to be ridiculous.
Most any American is so much, much, more likely to die of heart disease, or stroke, or diabetes. It’s a good bet everyone in America already knows of several people who have died or will die from the above mentioned ailments.
We’re more likely to be killed by a stranger texting while driving. We’re more likely to be killed by the flu. We’re more likely to be killed by someone we know. We’re more likely to be killed hitting our heads on in the shower stall.
Also, I own a gun. I’m therefore, much, much more likely to be killed with that specific gun than I am by any terrorist weapon.
There are so many, genuine threats, so many potential ways to die.
But the real, unavoidable, kick-in-the-pants reality is this:
Everyone will die.
You don’t like it. I don’t like it.
But there it its. Everybody dies. Nobody gets to not die.
So what do we do?
We press on.
People need our help. America prides itself on its ability to protect the helpless. It’s part of our culture. It’s part of why I served. We want to be the good guys.
Let’s be the good guys we want to be.
I’m not surrendering to fear.
I’m not surrendering to ISIS.
We’re the land of the free.
We’re the home of the brave.