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April 8, 2008 | 18 Comments

Post to the Host:
We lost our son in Iraq in August. Thank you for your wonderful column on the military attitude toward Iraq. So often we are asked, "Well what did your son think about our Iraq policy?". When we say that it didn't matter what he thought in terms of doing his job, people don't seem to understand. Now we can hand them a copy of your article because YOU GET IT. Thanks for appreciating and understanding…

Jim and Marilyn C.

Our hearts go out to you, is all I can say. The loss of a child is life's cruelest blow. Four-thousand of our people have died and after five years there is no end in sight. I think there never was a coherent policy, but I stand in admiration of your son's spirit and his dedication to duty. He is part of a proud tradition that goes back to General Washington's army, many of whom got discouraged and deserted the cause, most of whom stuck to their guns, despite it all. We honor our troops for their loyalty and dedication, even as we hold our representatives responsible for the policy.


Mr. Keillor, if I remember correctly, you told a young soldier a while back that you would be glad to honor his request to do a "Prairie Home Companion" show in St. Paul while the Republican convention is being held there (Sept. 1-4). Do you plan to keep that promise? I can imagine the audience joining in on a rollicking version of "We're All Republicans Now." I hope you'll take the opportunity to poke some fun at those who want things in our country--and Iraq--to stay as they are.

Thank you for your political columns.

Amy Buzby

Please accept the heartfelt thanks of a career soldier. "Support our Troops" has quite literally become a collective mantra, but far too few Americans show their support in a meaningful way: by exercising the freedoms we all cherish.

Re: 4/1/08 "Old Scout"

Excellent piece. Carry on.

"For the troops to fall into line is a noble thing; for civilians to fall into line is shameful. "

Is so aptly and eloquently put, thank you for a quote for the ages. My less subtle bumper-sticker version has been: "Support Our Troops, NOT Bush's Oops".

Jim and Marilyn,

I am so sorry to hear of your loss and I am ashamed that our government is so casual about such tragedy.

What a wonderful commentary. I have never seen my own personal feelings stated so eloquently. You absolutely hit the nail on the head. Thank you.

Thank you so much for saying clearly what I have felt in my heart for the last five years but could not express as well. Just last week our community learned that one of our own (and one of my former students)was dead, rather than missing as we had hoped and believed for the last 4 years. I am proud of Sgt. Matt Maupin for his willingness to serve his country, even to death. I am appalled that his life was so callously used by the government he put his trust in. So thank you again for making so clear the difference between "Support Our Troops" and "Support the War."

Janet Davidson
Clermont County, OH

I think that the mindless Bush bashing needs to stop. I think that the administrations' decision to invade Iraq (as mismanaged as it now appears to have been) was hardly a decision made unilaterally. Recent books have shown how the administration had a vigorous debate internally prior to the invasion, and there were negotiations with the UN, Nato as well as the US Congress. It seems to me the height of vapidity to dump on the administration that, after all, had the support of the public at the time. A feckless media culture and a party devoid of honor have turned on the lonely figure that they once stood behind.

My sympathies go to the "man in the arena", as immortalized in Ted Roosevelt's famous 1910 speech:

"It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat." Our President, flawed a man as he is, can truly be seen as that "man in the arena"

Re: 4/1/08 "Old Scout"
I cannot write as well as you, but here it goes:......Somewhat removed from the subject: Referring to the hand-wringing Washington D.C. is displaying over human rights in Tibet that the Chinese Government is exercising - how can our Congress and White House believe that they are not trampling on the Human Rights of our National Guard as they send these poor people back to Iraq for their 3rd of 4th "tour of duty". I know that these fathers and sons, mothers and daughters feel it is their duty as you so clearly stated but when is it that their "duty" tramples their "human rights" - it is a fine line but I believe our Government should consider the Human Rights of our Soldiers and National Guard. Families are being destroyed in many cases even if they come back alive.

Dennis Fischer
Naperville, Illinois


Thank you, thank you, thank you for your eloquent writing about a subject that should trouble us all to the core.

I grew up hearing "do or die" from my parents. It was always the "we told you take out the trash" lecture: "Yours is not to reason why," my Mom would say. "Yours is but to do or die." I think she understood the implications of "do AND die" pretty well... ;)

You have nailed it. Of all of your writings I have read and listened to over the years, this one is perfect. Thank you for putting into words, what I have had a hard time sorting in my head.

I have forwarded your commentary on the professional military to both kinds of friends, flaming liberals and arch conservatives, because it so perfectly expresses the values I was taught and lived with as a Naval officer for twenty years. I have also never heard a better description of the American citizens reasonability to hold their elected leaders accountable.

To George W from Raleigh,

There may indeed be some "mindless Bush bashing" going on around our nation, but not in this forum and certainly not for the majority of the critical thinking regarding the man and his war. Invading Iraq was done so over the protests of billions of people, dozens of nations, and was a foregone conclusion, regardless of the outcome of any "debate" in Congress, the UN, or nuclear weapons inspections. That soldiers were sent on a mission based on out and out lies is something that "many books" have also been written. And to say that George W Bush is the man in the arena "whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood" is so far off the mark, so dishonors the soldiers whose lives are in danger every day, it creates a farce of the quote in the first place.

Well said, Mr. Keillor. Jenny Root has it right as well. The comparison of Mr. Bush with "the man in the arena" is laughable at best. Unfortunately, living in Texas, I've seen Mr. Bush longer than most of the rest of you. Many of us tried to warn people about his lack of humanity (see Tucker Carlson's article before the 2000 election for just one example), but to our everlasting detriment, he's done things even I didn't think he was capable of doing.

January can't get here soon enough.

Do you think that Bill Clinton, Dianne Feinstein, Jay Rockefeller, Barbara Mikulski, and John Kerry, along with many others, were lying when they stated that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction? Why do these get a pass? It is easy for democrats and liberals to undermine our president and our country by using words like "liar" and "hatred", but much harder to tell the whole story like it really was.

All Americans are deeply sorry for the deaths of our young soldiers that have occurred in Afghanistan and Iraq, as well as for those taken by terrorist on a number of occasions. We still mourn the loss of 9/11. Our nation has become divided during a time of suffering and grief. I believe that national resolve at home, rather than division, better serves our troops and discourages terrorist.

To George W,
I am impressed with your post. President Bush is not nearly as "flawed" as biased media, liberals, and a party who wanted control and saw his downfall and their opportunity would have you to believe. If our country had been supportive throughout this effort, who knows what the outcome would have been by now?
Jan in GA

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