I was enraged to read Tom Clavin’s “Farther East” opinion piece [“The Best Years of Their Lives,” May 1]. Although I have long ago become numb to the specious and wholly fatuous arguments against America’s war on terrorism, given that Mr. Clavin callously chose to invoke the name of my dearest friend’s son, Lance Corporal Jordan Haerter, in his thinly veiled anti-war opinion piece—in the very same issue as this true American hero’s obituary—I must beg to be heard.
Marine Lance Corporal Jordan Haerter was—and hundreds of thousands of fine young Americans still are—at war not because they were drafted and faced jail time if they failed to muster, but because they fully understand and believe in what they are risking their lives to do. It is their iron-clad belief in the righteousness of what they are doing and the love for their comrades-in-arms that sustain these brave young men and women in the face of war horrors that only those who face them—with eyes wide open—can know.
Mr. Clavin asserts that “most of the American people” believe that one can support the troops while vocally and vehemently opposing the war. Perhaps the majority of Americans do believe that, but I doubt it.
Regardless, as a man who has proudly called young men like Jordan my comrades for more than 32 years, I can assure you that the only way to support our troops in combat is to assure them and their loved ones that the cause for which they are fighting, bleeding and dying is just and justified. Anything less, even silence, withholds the lifeblood of moral support from our troops in the face of a determined and lethal enemy—and that, sir, is absolute anathema to “most of the American people,” and to all of the Sag Harbor people I grew up with.
But rest assured, Mr. Clavin, there are actually people in this world who will derive value from reading opinions such as yours, and that’s America’s sworn enemies. It’s clear that, although defeated in every military encounter, the enemy still believes it will someday be able to destabilize the world economy, export terrorism to a growing number of developing countries, and kill thousands of unarmed Americans with impunity—if they can just hold out until opinions such as yours prevail, and America quits the war on terrorism before it’s won.
Thankfully, the majority of Americans—all of whom hate war—understand that the war must be won and that sacrifices, some ultimate, must be made to win it.
It’s evident from the text of Mr. Clavin’s article that he deeply believes what he wrote, and I respect men of conviction and their right to express those convictions, even those with whom I most vehemently disagree. I also believe that he meant no disrespect to America’s men and women in uniform, or to the family and friends anxiously waiting for them to come home.
But I have to say, Mr. Clavin, using Jordan’s name in an opinion piece in the very paper where his obituary was published, and where thousands who still grieve were bound to see it, was the ultimate insult to the young man’s memory, and especially to those who knew and loved him most dearly.
If Mr. Clavin refuses to know the facts about what it takes to support our troops in combat, or refuses to believe that public calls for American surrender provide inspiration to our enemies, at least learn what it takes to show genuine compassion and support for the grieving survivors of a beautiful American life well, but too soon, spent.
COLONEL THOMAS P. TOOLE, USAF (Ret)Sag Harbor