To: Sgt. Breonna Moffet. Sgt. William Jerome Rivers. Sgt. Kennedy Sanders:
I did not know you personally and the likelihood is that our paths might never have crossed. That does not matter.
Today, like your family, your friends and your fellow Americans, I am grieving at the news of your senseless deaths from a terrorist drone attack in Jordan. You were in the wrong place at the wrong time and as a result, three lives have been lost and three futures lost as well.
Individually, you had coached youth sports, worked with the disabled and had even had a previous tour of duty in Iraq. Collectively, you gave your lives for us. The ultimate sacrifice.
You were returned to the country this past week and greeted by your families, the President of the United States, the Secretary of Defense and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, among others. That is as it should be. You deserved that.
You came from all parts of Georgia – Waycross in South Georgia, Carrollton in west Georgia and Savannah on the coast – as members of the 718th Engineer Company, 926th Engineer Bat-talion of the U.S. Army Reserve Command. That’s a mouthful to say but, in short, you were serving your country in our military.
I spent a very short time in Iraq covering the men and women of Georgia’s 48th Brigade Combat Team and learned that while the military can delineate the difference between regular Army, Army Reserves and National Guard, it is all the same uniform to those seeking to do harm to us.
I’m not sure of your reasons for joining the military but one thing I do know – you were not forced to do so. You volunteered because you chose to, unlike a lot of countries where military service is mandatory.
Your passing should make us rethink the term, hero. Heroes are not athletes who get paid obscene amounts of money, some making more in a single day than your annual pay and then publicly denigrating our country and our flag, not appreciating that those who came before them fought and died for them to have the right to do so. They are not heroes. They play a child’s game. You weren’t playing. Yours was no game.
And then there is the rabble who wrapped themselves in the same flag the overpaid athletes have disrespected and with clubs and poles and zip-ties stormed the U.S. Capitol because they didn’t like the results of the presidential election. Even worse, they and their supporters proudly refer to them as patriots. They were not and are not patriots in any sense of the word. They were and are rightwing zealots attempting to overturn the results of an election with which they disagreed. They should be ashamed for even uttering that word. You and your colleagues who serve your country and put your life on the line are the real patriots. Not them.
For one moment your sacrifice did bring us together as Americans. Black and white. Male and female. Old and young. Liberal and conservative. There has been nothing but prayers and praise for you. We can do that when we want to. But sadly, it seems to always take a tragedy to unite us, however briefly.
And we are mad. And frustrated. Why were you in some outpost in Jordan near the Syrian border, anyway? And with all the sophisticated technology at our disposal how did we let a drone get through our defenses, costing you your lives and injuring 40 others? And what are we going to do about it? And will it make a difference?
We have been in that cesspool part of the world for the past 30-plus years and nothing seems to have changed. It’s like trying to stamp out cockroaches. The more you eradicate, the more they seem to multiply. ISIS, Hamas, Hizballah, Al Qaida, on and on. All terrorists. All intent on destroying us and our way of life. We are dealing with immoral and uncivilized cretins who place no value on human life – theirs or ours or yours.
In closing. as the three of you were returned to Dover Air Force base in Delaware in a fittingly silent and moving ceremony, the chaplain asked that the “stories of their lives be honored by others.” That is what I have been trying to do today along with those who are reading these words. We honor you. We salute you. And may we never forget you.
You can reach Dick Yarbrough at [email protected] or at P.O. Box 725373, Atlanta, Georgia 31139.