Scott Kesterson: A Moment to Reflect

Bouhammer Note- The blog entry and more importantly, the comments that Scott refers to down below can  be found here, I encourage you to read the posting below and then come back up here to click on the link above and read through some of the comments.

I need to take a moment to add a few comments about the soldiers I am with. I pride myself in telling the stories of the men and women that are deployed, with as little bias as possible. With a degree in History and a Photojournalist, there is nothing greater in my view than recording the candid and often vulnerable moments that define us as people. The palette I have chosen at this juncture in my life is war, a challenging and at times treacherous environment that offers a view into the human soul in its full breadth of multiplicity and contrast. I enter each of these embeds with the understanding that I am here to record their story, good and bad, as it happens and as they experience it. As part of that, I work hard at holding my own opinions close.

In the past few days there has been a torrent of anger and hate written in response to a blog titled, “The Other Side of Paradise.” I wrote that blog in two parts, showing two dif-ferent reactions to the election. The posts came about from a direct query from Arianna Huffington, founder of The Huffington Post, asking for a submission on the reaction of those overseas to the Election Night results.

I let the soldiers know what I wanted to do, and they agreed to let me share their feel-ings with the world. There was no agenda. The blogs were written as snap shots in time, to offer a view of feelings and reactions to what was truly a historic election.

I have become deeply saddened by the hundreds of responses that have been so rife with contempt and character assassinations. What does all of this say about a country I love so much, or the view of the men and women who choose to serve a cause they believe in? Have we fallen to a repeat of Vietnam, lashing out through the internet with the same hatred that was displayed through demonstrations and protests of the late 1960’s and 70’s? What does this say about us as citizens who have voted to embrace a new and better America under the leadership of a new President, that these soldiers who expressed their opinions have now been condemned for holding an opinion that is different than the election results? Have we forgotten the foundations that make our democracy strong… the right to voice what we feel with the freedom and security that we can do so without fear of reprisal?

The soldiers that are in our military are a melting pot of our culture. They come from all walks of life: some poor, some rich, others in between, all making a choice to serve for personal reasons, but ultimately embracing a common set of ideals to uphold and de-fend the values and way of life we hold so dear. I stand by the fact that these soldier’s opinions are theirs to have, even though they may be highly unpopular. Being unpopular does not, however, make their opinion any less valid nor criminal. And regardless of whether one agrees with the motives and ideologies driving these two wars, these soldiers have made a choice to serve this country and are doing so as they are directed to do.

As I write this I find myself reflecting on an incident that happened in Dallas, Texas over a year ago. A man, drunk and lost, began banging on the door of a house late at night. He had apparently mistaken the house for another. The owner of the home felt threatened, and fired several times through the door, killing the drunken man on his front steps. No charges were filed; it was considered self-defense. A soldier in either of the war zones that would dare fire and kill someone in the same manner would be investigated and most probably charged with murder. We hold soldiers to a higher standard than we do ourselves, always quick to send them out to do the dirty work, always quick to condemn them when they fail to meet the standards of perfection that few if any citizen could meet themselves.

So as we enter into this new period of change, I think it is important to recognize that not all will walk in unison to the same beat and drummer. We are a diverse culture and it is our diversity in race, religion, beliefs and values that makes us who we are. As I read through the hundreds of responses, I keep finding myself asking what this new vision of America is about, and where it will take us. Eight years of war has taken its toll, but I truly hope that the scars of war have not blinded us to the fact the we are all still Americans at the core. What that America will look like only time will tell, but through it I would hope that we will remember that being American is about being free to choose, free to speak, and above all, doing so with the respect and courage to honor the range of individuality that is the foundation for a healthy democracy.

Most respectfully,

Scott Kesterson.

Scott Kesterson in Afghanistan
Scott Kesterson in Afghanistan

14 thoughts on “Scott Kesterson: A Moment to Reflect”

  1. I am so glad when I see non military personnel stand up to defend the soldiers who, in turn, are defending the personnel. I spent my time in the United States Army, and one thing that I found to be almost universally clear was that very few people paid more than lip service to the ideals that make our country strong and what it is.

    I wanted to take the time to personally say “Thank you!” to Scott for writing this piece to remind us all what the ideals and goals are of this great country. We, as a people, have the right to dissent against the majority, as to do the majority have the right to assent together.

    Let us not forget that if we had not, as a people, banded together both in the belief in freedom as well as the actions required to win that freedom, the United States Of America would not exist today. We’d still be a British colony.

    Bouhammer, I carry your posts on Keep your head on a swivel and your ammo dry, brother!

  2. While the US Armed Forces are a melting pot of our society, those who join typically tend towards one end of the political spectrum, I think. It is not a rule, but by my observation it is a strong tendency. There is a new intolerance growing in the United States. It is not based on race, or creed, but on ideology.

    There are a large group of very vocal people who feel greatly empowered by recent events to express their rage, and to attempt to suppress opposition. Their intolerance will further drive the wedge. This has not by any means come to its zenith, I think.

    When the nation’s warriors find themselves anathema to the “mainstream” at home, it is a terrible thing. This is what will make this war more like Viet Nam than anything else.

  3. Our warriors are NOT out of the mainstream. The people are behind them, and their mission. HuffPo commenters aren’t exactly people who will reflect mainstream opinion. First, the funding for this election was lopsided. Obama spent in one hour what McCain could spend in a week. No contest.

    The media suppressed negative information about Obama, and played up the positive. Their own reviews post-election show they themselves understand there was a bias that affected this outcome. They shaped and manipulated public opinion, rather than educating and informing it. They’ve lost all credibility and legitimacy, and their ratings and subscription rates show it.

    Hours after Obama was elected, Farrakhan announced a return of the Nation of Islam, and Bill Ayers came out advocating the education reform that began in the 1970s. Obama slipped up and showed his true self with the Nancy Reagan joke. Those moderates and independents, and conservatives, who thought Obama was an okay alternative, and believed the centrist portrait the media strained to paint, will soon be disabused of that naive notion.

    The rank censorship evidenced in this election will continue, and strengthen under Obama. He’s not real big on diversity of opinion, and neither are his disciples.

    Soldiers simply understand the reality of this enemy, and what’s required to defeat them. It’s always nice if your CinC understands the enemy, too. We’ll soon see if this new guy does.

  4. Rock on, Scott. Don’t let the hate get to you. It’s blind and it can’t discern vitriol from thoughtful prose. Yours is the latter. Loved both your posts at HuffPo, but I will not stoop to commenting there for the exact reasons you state here.

    God bless you, sir.

  5. I will fight for the troops while i am here in the states. I belong to the vets for freedom and i am a military mom. I will never let the democrats or the new president hurt you or let you down. i will fight him at ever turning point. In my heart i can never call him president. I have fought these guys for eight years to get the funding needed for you guys. The names that they called our soldiers was terrible. The democrats do not care about the troops at all because they are anti war people and hang with people like code pink. Some of them i dealt with back in the vietnam days and i will fight to see they don;t hurt you guys like they did back then. I will pray for you guys. The commander in chief you had did care about you and i have worked with him so he got the funding you guys need. This new one coming in i don;t trust him at all. The team he is surrounding himself with comes from the clinton era and they hurt the military back then. Let me know if i can do anything for you guys ok.

  6. Rick, Why would honorable soldiers not vote? If they fight for our rights= one being,the right to vote, seems logical to me that they should be able to vote.
    Honorable people should support our troops. We would all be better off if that could be practiced by the LEFT.
    Our troops are my heroes.

  7. I make it a practice not to read Huffington, but wanted to check out a few of the comments. Now I remember why I don’t read Huffington. The anti-war crowd’s comments don’t reflect opinions of all of us.
    Many of us are grateful for your service and sacrifice. We ‘get it’ that the enemy hates us for our freedom and that you are working hard to keep us safe and free. God bless you.
    I do understand your disappointment and dejection, troops, as I am feeling that way too. Add disgusted to that…

  8. Last year when we guarded the Gold Star mothers at a counter demostration to the anti-war demonstration, a young man called President Bush a dictator. I nicely explained to him that if Bush was a dictator, he would have been shot dead by troops instead of being called out by us. He didn’t understand the meaning of my words. Such stupidity. Maybe he needed to be in Greece some years ago, as I was, to understand my words when I woke up to tanks roaring down the streets under the military dictatorship. Such citizens have no frame of reference to judge their ignorance.

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