My Promise To Bear Witness

Discussion in 'Religion and Ethics' started by NATO AIR, Sep 16, 2004.

  1. NATO AIR
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    NATO AIR Senior Member

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    i thought it might be okay to share this with everyone, if you're interested. It relates to the conclusion to a very personal battle I've been fighting on behalf of my beliefs. I know I probably sound crazy, but this is how I wanted to spend my leave time this year from the Navy here in Yokosuka, Japan. After being turned down three times on three seperate occasions by my commanding officer (who's allowed me to revise my argument and gain more support over the past three attempts leading up to this week), he approved my fourth request and forwarded me up all the way to the 7th fleet admiral. Though he could not see me due to scheduling issues, he invited me to submit a short statement to support my request. The Navy's main reason for not allowing me to go is fear of terrorism from Sudanese groups or militias, as well as the possibility of warfare being spread into where I would be for three weeks.

    Sir,
    In the past six months, I have struggled to meet my chain of command's criteria for approving my taking leave to Chad, on the outskirts of Darfur, where genocide is being committed and more than a million lives hang in the balance. Though turned down three times previously, I continued my efforts and at all times my manner and tone have remained respectful, as noted by the senior members of the ship who put comments in this request chit. Instead of giving me a firm, final "no", all have encouraged me to improve and better articulate my reasons for requesting leave in this troubled area.
    Their motivation for doing so is my unique background with respect to this situation.
    Since the age of 10, I have sworn that when I became a grown man, I would give my all to prevent genocide and the continued existence of nightmarish regimes such as the Taliban or Saddam Hussein's Iraq. This solemn promise stems from a young boy who watched his career Army parents agonize over not being deployed to halt the ethnic cleansing commited by the Serbian fascists in Bosnia. My parents are good, hard working people. They gave two decades to their country without qualms, hoping their service would help the world I grew up in to be a better, safer, more just place. Though this has not happened yet, the lessons they imparted on me: to strive for justice, to work for improvement, to defend the weak, these all greatly shape the man I am today.
    I hope I honor them today through my actions now and in the past, in gaining skilled humanitarian aid training, in travelling to South Africa to treat AIDS victims, in assisting Haitian refugees fleeing political violence, in spending a week along the border with Mynamar as part of a Navy medical project, treating asylum seekers and their children who have fled from that nation's military regime. I had hoped to use this training and dedication on my personal time to assist genocide survivors in the Darfur region and ultimately, to bear witness, as I have since I was 10, to the pain and suffering of others. In bearing witness to unspeakable evils and tragedies, I promise to do my best for the victims, both through treatment and through spreading the word of their plight to others.
    I am religious, and the past six months, my faith has grown. That faith, and the promise I made to myself and to God, is what has brought this matter to you today. All I ask for is the chance to honor the ideals of America I have learned in the Navy and before I enlisted. To assist others in need, to protect the weak, to stand up for justice where tyranny and evil wish to triumph, these are ideals generations before me have enshrined in reality. I hope to continue that honorable tradition in the Darfur region.



    ________________________________________________________________
    so i get it back today "disapproved".... the admiral says its too dangerous. I agonize over being left on the sidelines, but I respect his decision and know its the final call. But I'm left with the sinking feeling: what else can I do for those in Darfur besides what I'm already doing, spreading awareness, raising funds and writing my leaders.
     
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  2. Said1
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    Said1 VIP Member

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    Tough break. You need to figure out the reason why you were prevented from going...some of the forces working behind the scenes are bigger than us.
     
  3. onedomino
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    onedomino SCE to AUX

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    NATO, please forgive these unsolicited observations:

    I am very impressed by your letter to the Admiral. I admire your service on behalf of others. I know you realize that the area to which you want to travel is very dangerous. You are brave to set that aside so you can help others.

    There can be no doubt that your Admiral wants to let you go. But he fears for your safety (so would we all), and does not want to lose you. I understand his concern. I am sorry about your disappointment.

    Chad and the Darfur region of Sudan will need help for many years. I am not sure if you are going to make the Navy your career. If not, then you can go to that area after you exit the Navy. Certainly it will still need help then. If you are going to stay in the Navy, then perhaps sometime in the future the area will calm down enough so that the Navy will allow you to travel there.

    You are fine person and your country is proud of you. We need to keep you safe so you can continue to make the excellent contributions helping others that you have made in the past. Perhaps for now, you might consider visiting on leave some other area that is safer but still needs your help.
     
  4. 5stringJeff
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    5stringJeff Senior Member

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    NATO, I too share your concern for the Sudanese. There is a big part of me that would like to be there as well. I think your intentions are good and I respect that.

    That said, please don't forget that you are already serving the cause of democracy and freeodm by serving in the Navy. While you might not be on the front lines (although I know the Kitty Hawk is a power projection platform) you are still serving in a way that the vast majority of Americans will never do. So while you may aspire to different ways to serve, please don't forget that you are already serving. And, from this Army veteran, thanks for holding the line.
     
  5. NATO AIR
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    NATO AIR Senior Member

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    thank you for the encouragement and support. i will need it as the reality sets in that this is still happening and i am on the sidelines here, not where I long to be.
    I'm in the military to follow orders, not ignore them, so its time to buck up and hit the op-eds and letters with even greater effort.
     
  6. Arabian
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    dear nato air
    your post is great
    and your feeling is more than great
    i think if all people think as you do the world will be so different
    so great and so perfect
    and i know how you feel now from injustice from your leader
    but i think you shouldnt give up or surrender
    this is what you want what you need make your perposal again
    to the bigest leader
    even though you could travel on your own expenditure
    you are great guy
    and i hope i could be once like you when i grow up
     

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