Fortunato’s Creed

Fortunato_stephen_r_lg_2  "Pat
Army Specialist Stephen R. Fortunato (25) passed away in Afghanistan this past week. He wrote the following recently and if you see fit please pass it on as it is especially poingant considering his short time here. He was from my hometown, though I did not know him I knew his family and he came from fine stock.
All the Best
Bobo "
26th_inf_coa_2 ""If I may …
I’d like to say something….Just to get it out there so it is clear.
To all the pampered and protected Americans who feel it is their duty to inform me that I am not fighting for their freedom, and that i am a pawn in Bush’s agenda of greed and oil acquisition: Noted, and Fuck You.
I am not a robot. i am not blind or ignorant to the state of the world or the implications of the “war on terrorism.” i know that our leaders have made mistakes in the handling of a very sensitive situation, but do not for one second think that you can make me lose faith in what we, meaning America’s sons, daughters, fathers, and mothers in uniform are doing.
I am doing my part in fighting a very real enemy of the United States, i.e. Taliban, Al Qaeda, and various other radical sects of Islam that have declared war on our way of life. Unless you believe the events of 9/11 were the result of a government conspiracy, which by the way would make you a MORON, there is no reasonable argument you can make against there being a true and dangerous threat that needs to be dealt with.
I don’t care if there are corporations leeching off the war effort to make money, and I don’t care if you don’t think our freedom within America’s borders is actually at stake. I just want to kill those who would harm my family and friends. it is that simple.
Even if this is just a war for profit or to assert America’s power, so what? Someone has to be on top and I want it to be us. There’s nothing wrong with wishing prosperity for your side.
I am a proud American. I believe that my country allows me to live my life more or less however I want to, and believe me, I have seen what the alternative of that looks like. I also believe that our big scary government does way more than it has to help complete fuck-ups get back on their feet, a stark comparison to places where leaders just line their own pockets with gold while allowing the people who gave them their power and privilege to starve.
I have chosen my corner. I back my country, and am proud to defend it against aggressors.
Also, if you dare accuse us of being inhumane, or overly aggressive because we have rolled into someone else’s country and blown some shit up and shot some people, let me remind you of just how inhumane we COULD be in defending ourselves. Let me remind you that we have a warhead that drops multiple bomblets from the stratosphere which upon impact, would turn all the sand in Iraq to glass, and reduce every living thing there to dust.
Do we use it?
Instead we use the most humane weapon ever devised: the American Soldier. We send our bravest (and perhaps admittedly craziest) men and women into enemy territory, into harms way, to root out those whom we are after and do our best to leave innocent lives unscathed.
…One last thing…
A proposal: I know it has been stated time and time again but I just think it is worthy of reiteration. If you find yourself completely disgusted with the way America is being ran, and how we handle things on the global stage, you can leave. Isn’t that amazing? No one will stop you! If you are an anarchist, there are places you can go where there is no government to tell you anything. That’s right…you are left solely to your own devices and you can handle the men who show up at your door with AKs in any way that you see fit. Just don’t try good old American debate tactics on them because you will most likely end up bound and blind-folded, to have your head chopped off on the internet so your parents can see it.
However, if you insist on staying here and taking advantage of privileges such as free speech and WIC, keep the counter-productive shit to a minimum while the grown ups figure out how to handle this god-awful mess in the middle east.
Stephen R. Fortunato
26th Infantry Regiment
US Army"’
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59 Responses to Fortunato’s Creed

  1. looseleaf says:

    Are the “grown-ups” on the job yet?

  2. Dave of Maryland says:

    Why was this man led to slaughter? He, more than most, needed the benefits of a long & eventful life.

  3. On the surface, I have mixed feelings about what Stephen Fortunato wrote, but I have to admit that if I were in his shoes, I would say exactly the same thing.
    Offering your life in the defense of your fellow citizens is the highest form of public service. The motives of venal leaders do not take away from his sacrifice and I am proud to share the same ideas and feelings.
    But I am preaching to the choir on that one. The example of my father, uncles, and brother brought me to the same conclusion in the late 1960s with 28 years of active and reserve service the result.
    If you asked me about my political beliefs, they would mirror COL Lang, a rational look at how things should be and not an ideological one. I am certainly opposed to the Iraq war and was so in the the beginning (mostly due to my time in Iraq in 1991) but I have to say that in spite of that, if called I would serve.
    I suspect that those who have not served will have a more difficult time understanding why a person can hold ideas that are not predictably neo-conservative and still feel a lump in the throat reading what Stephen Fortunato said.

  4. Pudentilla says:

    “there is no reasonable argument you can make against there being a true and dangerous threat that needs to be dealt with.”
    a straw man argument – main stream critics of the administration’s war efforts have not claimed radical Islam is not a significant threat to U.S. interests.
    “I just want to kill those who would harm my family and friends. it is that simple.”
    a fine description of personal motivation does not constitute effective foreign or military policy.
    “I am a proud American. ” So are the people you appear to be arguing with.”
    “I have chosen my corner. I back my country, and am proud to defend it against aggressors.
    Also, if you dare accuse us of being inhumane, or overly aggressive because we have rolled into someone else’s country and blown some shit up and shot some people, let me remind you of just how inhumane we COULD be in defending ourselves. ”
    Before Rumsfeld and Cheney the notion that a soldier in the U.S. armed forces would have made such an argument would have been cause for concern. Now we are simply relieved that he, at least, does not attempt to justify torture.
    “you can leave.” Sadly, it always seems to come down to this riposte, doesn’t it. Makes you wonder whose Constitution this young man thinks he’s fighting for.
    When a young person dies, that untimely death is inherently sad – whether in times of war or peace.
    When a young soldier dies in war, we are tempted to grant his words great moral authority than they may merit to soothe the sadness. The temptation may be even stronger when the war in conception and execution has been bungled as badly as possible – it allows us to slip past the questions young soldiers since Achilles have asked – whether their lives and deaths can have any significance in world tortured both morally and politically.
    I am sorry for this man’s death not because he fought or died “for” me. I didn’t want him to, nor did I ask him to. But he did die, if only to some small degree, because of me. Our democracy failed when confronted with 9/11. As citizens we failed when our leaders rushed headlong to feed the psychic beast of fear 9/11 unleashed. We did not demand better, we did not demand much of them at all. And many young men and women, American, coalition and Iraqi have died because of the failure of American democracy.
    Their deaths, however, don’t endow their opinions with any special moral authority. This man’s opinions were authoritarian and undemocratic and forged in a furnace of danger and difficulty I cannot even begin to comprehend. They are not, however, the kinds of ideas that will cure our democratic ills. Indeed, I very much fear that such opinions will lead only to more needless, costly and tragic wars.

  5. Grumpy says:

    Soldier, WELL DONE! Rest, you’ve paid your dues.

  6. Nancy K says:

    I am so very sorry that this young man was killed while serving his country. I agree that the world is filled with horrible people, but I disagree with him in that I don’t believe it is our country’s job or duty to try and kill all of them.
    I do believe as an American that I or those I love may be called upon to defend my country, as they have been in the past. However I also believe that no president should send our young to war unless that war is so important, that they are willing to send their children also.
    I pray for Stephen Fortunato’s family and may the peace that passes all understanding be with them.

  7. jonst says:

    So, we are left to argue, if “argue” we decide is warranted, with a young man that lost his life in a cause he believed in? Rather, an untenable position. Ok, that said…what strikes me the most about this is, it appears, TO THIS SUBJECTIVE OBSERVER, simultaneously, utterly simplistic nonsense….and sinister, at the same time. Usually, sinister and simplistic don’t go together.

  8. Dan M says:

    Another tragedy.
    I’ve come to the view that we should leave Afghanistan.
    I don’t much fear the taliban. I don’t much fear Al Qaeda. I don’t think either is capable of damaging my/our way of life (i’m far more worried about the mortgage industry).
    I think i know that using infantry to cut down poppy plants that village economies rely is counterproductive and dangerous for the young men involved.
    A heroic sacrifice was made by this young man — but in service of a cause I at least don’t understand, and feel is ultimately making us less safe.

  9. Part of rationalism is doubting that you are correct in your assumptions and conclusions. Still doubting on the frontlines can get many innocents killed unless the boots on the ground are filled bythose with the confidence that they (you) are doing the right thing. Clearly this soldier was highly confident of that fact. My sympathy and regrets to his family and fellow soldiers. A large loss that probably won’t be made up anytime soon by equivalent articulateness by those in his chain of command, whether military or civilian.

  10. atljoe says:

    Um yeah I think people who are using WIC have much more important things to worry about then complaining about the war… like keeping the electricity on or what there eating at the end of the day.
    For one I would just love to see those who attack people on government assistance come down to my neighborhood and live the life of the people in the projects or the folks who sleep on the street at night.

  11. Patrick Lang says:

    I posted yr cmment because I am curious as to know why you think that what you wrote is on topic. pl

  12. patrick says:

    What’s WIC?
    Very sad the young man was KIA. Too bad he did not recognize that Islamic radicals are a very minor threat to our nation. If we cease to allow immigration from Islamic countries, deport all muslim non-citizens, no student visas to fly airplanes, and alter our Israel First policies, many of our problems would vanish.
    They got oil, we want to buy it. It should be that simple.

  13. Shep says:

    Col. Lang,
    re: atljoe
    “However, if you insist on staying here and taking advantage of privileges such as free speech and WIC, keep the counter-productive shit to a minimum while the grown ups figure out how to handle this god-awful mess in the middle east.”
    Maybe y’all just can’t connect with civilians….

  14. Matthias says:

    There is a certain irony in that argument of “you can leave”. Living here, the U.S. election result may have an impact on my taxes or if my gay friends can marry or not, but leaving may literally cost me an arm and a leg if I happen to be from the wrong country and on the other side of the barrel of one of those perfectly conditioned soldiers, obviously blatantly unaware of what they have been raised to be.
    When people can speak these words with such conviction, there is much to be done in terms of raising people’s awareness, promoting a sense of unity as opposed to egocentrism.
    The results in general and in particular are a direct reflection of such tremendous conditioning. We have not yet seen the worst of what has been put into motion.
    This letter and its circumstances are a powerful and incredibly sad statement about the state of our world. It truly tears me apart inside and leaves me lost and hopeless.

  15. Watcher says:

    “Dulcis amor patriae.” What more can be said of SPC Fortunato?

  16. lina says:

    My sincere condolences to his family. People who die in service to their country are great patriots, in my view.
    However, as an American citizen, I reserve the right to criticize the policies that send young soldiers into wars.
    I’m not sure why he found it necessary to bring WIC into this “creed,” but I’m not surprised a 25-year old thinks he knows best. It took at least twice that many years for me to realize I know only a little.

  17. Patrick Lang says:

    OK. WIC is a beneficial program for “Women, Infants and Children.” Right? I can “Google” too. Why he put thst in his letter is unknown at this point, but…
    Can’t “connect with cvilians?” Interesting. Is this a reflection of a a deep seated prejudice on your part? pl

  18. Michael D. Adams says:

    This letter is an absolutely disgusting demonstrations of what can happen, even to “good stock”, when they are deluded by the overwhelming force of our modern American propaganda.
    This letter also reaffirms the judgement of the Nuremberg Tribunal when they sentenced some of Nazi Germany’s propagandists to death for war crimes.
    This pitiful kid died, clueless and arrogant, with his boots on, his brain off. And, in this letter, with his “last breath” he is propagating the disease to the future corporate cannon fodder of America. I’m sure I will see this letter in every other Right Wing viral email for a long time to come.
    Yes, I’ll pass this along. I’ll pass it along with his sincere desire to serve intact, but with every twisted concept annotated and refuted beyond any reasonable doubt.
    I’m too pissed to write anymore.
    Ever So Sincerely,

  19. Lysander says:

    I’m sure he was a fine young man, but while he talks of his willingness to die for Americans’ freedom, he seems to have seriously despised a good half of Americans.
    Also his statement;
    “Even if this is just a war for profit or to assert America’s power, so what? Someone has to be on top and I want it to be us.”
    Sorry but I can’t agree with that. Using brute force to take what belongs to others is wrong. I’m not for it even if my country is doing it. Even if young men who are now dead want it.
    He had great conviction in his cause, but so did a lot of soldiers in a lot of armies. Conviction is not the same as justice.

  20. Yellow Dog says:

    I am curious as to your intent in publishing this. Did you intend to get a rise out of your “liberal” readers? Or was this purely intended for our edification? You seldom betray your own opinions of your readership (and I’m not certain that I’m that eager for you to share).
    For the little that it’s worth, I thank God for SP4 Fortunato, and the men and women like him. It takes a certain mindset to do what he did for his country, and for my fellow “pampered and protected Americans” who may be offended by having it laid out so explicitly, I think you need to get the fuck over it.
    That being said, as a citizen I have different duties and responsibilities.
    So I have no quarrel with SP4 Fortunato or even with his creed (though I may quibble with some of the ignorant rhetoric). My quarrel is with the craven bastards (Bush, Cheney, Rove) who sent him to die in a war that was and is waged, not to protect America, but for the greater glory of the Republican Party.
    My fight against them will continue long after this election is over.

  21. Michael D. Adams says:

    “Can’t “connect with civilians?” Interesting. Is this a reflection of a a deep seated prejudice on your part? pl ”
    Col Lang, Sir,
    I think altjoe is reacting to the undercurrent of the depraved propaganda memes in Spec. Fortuanto’s letter.
    Being a propaganda/psyops guy, I caught those undercurrents also and was disgusted and saddened by what had happened to this young man’s thinking.
    I don’t perceive altjoe as having deep seated prejudices but rather, unfamiliar with the military as are most modern American civilians. Even to a neutral eye there are a lot of horrible things that are now associated with the US Military (Gitmo, Iraq atrocities, Snipers baiting targets, Cable TV’s Lying Generals, etc., ad nauseam. I think Sun Tzu would recommend you attempt to make altjoe an ally and explain rather that confront and alienate.
    More later but I have to stop now. This one is eating my heart out.
    Highest Regards,

  22. jdledell says:

    It’s a sad situation anytime a human life is lost at his age. That being said, this young man did HIS DUTY as a soldier. He was asked to go to Afganistan and follow the orders of his commanding officers. I assume he served with distinction and honor. May G-d be with him.
    However, I have a different DUTY. That duty is to try my best to change the course of our political and military policy if I disagree with it’s direction. I not only do not have a duty to leave this country, I have a duty to stay and fight for what I believe in for my country.
    I disagree with most of what this young man said are his reasons and justifications but honor his sacrifice in fighting for his beliefs. While death prevents our ever meeting and discussing our differences, I would hope that other young men and women in his shoes would honor my sincerity as I honor his.

  23. Jesse says:

    The death of a volunteer soldier may be the most tragic and abusive result of misinformation coming out of our leadership.
    These stories should inspire us all to demand a more transparent, honest, and conflict-of-interest-less government.

  24. HH says:

    Even if this is just a war for profit or to assert America’s power, so what? Someone has to be on top and I want it to be us. There’s nothing wrong with wishing prosperity for your side.
    Stop right there.

  25. Patrick Lang says:

    An interesting array of views.
    The seminar I was at yesterday in NYC (Fordham U.) had much to do with the effect on the popular mind of ignorance and propaganda and its reflection in the misbehavior seen in recent years toward prisoners.
    This soldier would have benefited greatly from exposure to leadership that educated him as well as led him.
    All of you clever young people out there who are attending good colleges in something other than trade schools studies should consider whether or not Sp4 Fortunato would have benefited from having you as a leader.
    I can hear the whining from here—-
    ROTC? Me? How awful an idea! I have better things to do! Let Fortunato do it.
    When I was 22, I commanded 43 good men and true, all armed to the teeth. A lot of them were like Fortunato.

  26. John Hammer says:

    “People sleep peaceably in their beds at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf.”-G. Orwell

  27. TomB says:

    “Emotion,” someone once said, “has taught us to think,” and so I think we ought to cut this young man some slack given that young men in particular have always tended to be more familiar with the former than the latter.
    Ironically, however, I also think that with his wonderful youthful bluntness he at least tried to directly confront something that for all its tremendous importance this society tip-toes around and that is the culture war that we have been experiencing for quite some time now.
    Every man’s death diminishes us supposedly, but the death of a young boy like this can somewhat seem to shame us too.

  28. anna missed says:

    Unfortunately, this soldiers story is sad, and has become the typical and updated “love it or leave it” narrative I see often as a defense mechanism. Its sad because it’s largely a lament, in that it expresses a kind of alienation more than anything else. On the unanchored and evanescent.

  29. Larry K says:

    Sentences like these from you — “When I was 22, I commanded 43 good men and true, all armed to the teeth. A lot of them were like Fortunato.” — are why I visit every day I can. The intensity of thought and feeling in those few words can’t be separated from the way they point in several directions at once. Which reminds me — what is the subject of your next novel?

  30. anna missed says:

    Post above obviously got truncated.
    Filling in… I think the soldiers story is sad in that he seems alienated. Alienated from a culturally opaque enemy he has zero understanding of. But more importantly, alienated from his his own countrymen. That he sees many/most Americans as shiftless self centered couch potatoes, that have no real appreciation for his task at hand. But then he goes farther, disengaging also from any responsibility for; proportional use of force, corporate war profiteering, political corruption, and rampant incompetence.
    While all soldiers that die for their commitment, do so for certain ideals. It strikes me as sad, that this soldiers ideals are so disconnected and alienated and as a result, are unanchored and evanescent.

  31. Shirin says:

    Poor deluded soul! What a shame there are so many who think as he does.

  32. Peg says:

    May the family of Army Specialist Stephen R. Fortunato find peace. I know what they are going through. Thoughts and prayers to them.
    Others serving may have other opinions than Stephen
    — maybe those in this Aug 2008 USA Today article?
    Military donations favor Obama
    “Among soldiers serving overseas at the time of their donations, 134 gave a total of $60,642 to Obama while 26 gave a total of $10,665 to McCain. That was less than the amount received by Republican Ron Paul, who collected $45,512 from 99 soldiers serving abroad, the report said.”

  33. ChrisH says:

    The feelings expressed in this young man’s letter reflect to a large degree the feelings I had as a Marine in Vietnam in’69. He had so much more to learn about life and people and I would’ve hoped that his feelings would become more clear to him as he matured as mine did. As for me, I take pride in wearing my “Veterans for Peace” t-shirt and thank those that compliment me on my pride in this group. My regret is that I didn’t do enough to dissuade other young men and women. Too many, too many for so little gains.

  34. Cornfed says:

    I’m sorry.
    I’m sorry Spc. Fortunato died.
    I’m sorry there was such a chasam between our individual understandings of America and her role in the world.
    I don’t know what else to say. I don’t know what else would be appropriate to say.
    What should a civilian do? I was always given to understand that civilian oversight of the military is a vital hedge against tyranny. I always thought that freedom of speech is a right, albeit one which should be guided by a sense of duty and responsibility.
    Perhaps I’m wrong. And even if I’m not, my lack of service would seem to render the question moot.
    For what it’s worth, I wanted to be an officer. I was lining up a slot at Quantico and fighting to get myself in shape but a lung-damaging bout with whooping cough took care of that. Failure to serve was not my choice but I can’t help but feel it was still a failure.
    God be with Spc. Fortunato’s friends and family.

  35. Patrick Lang says:

    Larry K
    It is the second book of the trilogy. It carries the story forward down the bloody roads that Claude is following. pl

  36. Richard Armstrong says:

    I sure hope no one thinks it improper of me to point out that this fallen soldier was quite incorrect to call Freedom of Speech a “privilege”.
    Freedom of Speech is right enumerated in the U.S. Constitution.
    Having always been politically very left of center, I frequently express views about my government that would land me in jail in many other nations. It is not ironic that my right to do so is why I love this country.
    When I enlisted in the Army some 30 years ago I swore an oath not to defend this country or it’s people, but to defend the Constitution. Not only to defend but also to bear true faith and allegiance to the same.

  37. Richard Armstrong says:

    One other item solely related to WIC.
    A surprisingly large percentage (over 20%) of military personnel with dependents qualify for and take advantage of the WIC program.
    In fact, a special version of the WIC program was implemented in 2000 to allow qualifying service members to continue to benefit from this program while they and their families are posted overseas.

  38. Jesse says:

    I considered both joining the Navy and joining ROTC around the ages of 17-19. But being a debater for years familiarized me with many of the facts (and lack thereof) regarding the recently named “axis” nations. I found it very difficult in high school and early college to accept the mounting “narrative.” I decided I’d better serve my country (myself too, sure) studying science+engineering towards finding an alternative to oil. I admit I will never know if I had the courage necessary for a military life.
    I have never said “let someone else do it.” On the contrary I feel a troubling moral dilemma; if I am right to think my nation’s divining powers corrupt users of their volunteer military, then I surely owe it to my countrymen in service to dispel them of these myths. If I misjudge the powers that be, then I am a coward for not volunteering myself.
    I imagine that even at 22 you would have educated as well as lead your men.
    Was this Vietnam? Does education of one’s men include detailing the possible ulterior motives and/or unseen ramifications of your operation?

  39. Kevin Fallon says:

    It was poignant..and his death is tragic.
    It’s driving me a little crazy though that I keep hearing the line that we owe our freedoms to the military, when in fact it’s the US Constitution that guarantees my freedoms- and I’d go a step further and say that I was born free “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights”. If the US was defeated militarily at home and the US was no longer a country I would still be a free man- whether I had defenders or not. There were free men who lived in Stalinist Russia- they didn’t need a country or a piece of paper to make it so. Defending you and yours is a virtue but I don’t know who this young man was defending.
    It’s all just too tragic. I weep for my country

  40. Trent says:

    Terrible waste of space here at SST and also a terrible waste of a life. The unfortunate man who lost his life is delusional.
    “a stark comparison to places where leaders just line their own pockets with gold while allowing the people who gave them their power and privilege to starve.” Please. Here is a good man and nothing more who wants to shout others down because his argument can’t be won on its own merits. Silly.

  41. Andrew says:

    Thank you for posting this. It exposes so many of our frailties and pieties.
    On your supplemental
    ‘All of you clever young people out there who are attending good colleges in something other than trade schools studies should consider whether or not Sp4 Fortunato would have benefited from having you as a leader.’
    I can’t speak for the US forces, but I personally flirted quite seriously with joining the Territorials here in the UK. I think the cultural forces which keep a certain kind of person in or out of the officer corps (not just class an background – I can tick those boxes – but attitudes) are quite strong. Once you are in, the culture is strong and naturally it shapes you (it has to be that way, doesn’t it?).
    Having considered your question, I conclude that the British equivalents of Sp4 Fortunato would not particularly have benefitted from knowing or being led by me, rather I would probably have been shaped to think more like them.
    Not a terribly comforting conclusion.

  42. Matthew says:

    I found the note exceptionally uninspiring and I did not like that dude.
    I have seen much more impressive soldiers interviewed on TV. I prefer to think of them when I think of America.

  43. Homer says:

    (FYI: Today marks the 25th Anniversary of the bombing of the US Marine Barracks in Lebanon. Wondering if they will celebrate in Iraq.)
    Final Text of Iraq Pact Reveals a U.S. Debacle
    WASHINGTON, Oct 22 (IPS) – The final draft of the U.S.-Iraq Status of Forces agreement on the U.S. military presence represents an even more crushing defeat for the policy of the George W. Bush administration than previously thought, the final text reveals.
    The collapse of the Bush administration’s ambitious plan for a long-term U.S. presence in Iraq highlights the degree of unreality that has prevailed among top U.S. officials in both Washington and Baghdad on Iraqi politics. They continued to see the Maliki regime as a client which would cooperate with U.S. aims even after it was clear that Maliki’s agenda was sharply at odds with that of the United States.

  44. Ah, to be 25 again and not know what I know now …

  45. TomB says:

    Kevin Fallon wrote:
    “It’s driving me a little crazy though that I keep hearing the line that we owe our freedoms to the military, when in fact it’s the US Constitution that guarantees my freedoms….
    “There were free men who lived in Stalinist Russia….”
    Interesting definition of “freedom.” Brings to mind Samuel Johnson’s quip about the need to count your spoons after being visited by people who see no difference between virtue and vice.
    And I’d be interested in just how you think you got your constitution, Kevin? If memory serves it wasn’t with sweet reason and zen koans, it was with those rough men of Orwell’s exposing their meat and bone to iron and steel at places like Yorktown.
    Again the fundamental thing that Fortunato addressed was the culture war that’s been going on in this country, and in particular and at most extreme end of the spectrum those who wish us to trust that the world doesn’t still and won’t always have people in it who want to be the dog that eats other dogs.

  46. Mad Dogs says:

    Death has no favorites. It comes to us all. Sometimes young, sometimes old.
    When I was Fortunato’s age, I had just completed my 4 years of service.
    I remember one of my brothers-in-arms who was 3-4 years younger than Fortunato.
    While he shared few of Fortunato’s political beliefs, he certainly shared the same demise.
    And like oh-so many down through the millenia, I wonder “what might have been?”
    You can’t argue with the dead. No matter how hard you try.

  47. Jim V says:

    The last time I felt as sad as I do after reading this post was many years ago, when I saw a news video from South Africa. Apartheid was in the process of being overthrown, and the video showed a group of white protesters. One of them was a cute, blond-headed boy of about ten. The reporter put a microphone in front of him, asking why he was protesting.
    “Because Blacks want the same rights as Whites … and I don’t think that’s right!”
    I could debate facts and logic with young people like the Afrikaner and Mr. Fortunato, but what could I do to counter ingrained beliefs and prejudices?
    (I was drafted for the Vietnam war but flunked the physical due to extreme near-sightedness. The recruiting sergeant who told me the result said, upon seeing my reaction, “What’s the matter, you didn’t really want to get your ass shot off in Vietnam did you?”
    “No,” I replied, “but it seems like there are lots of things I could do.”
    “That’s true,” he replied, “but the Army has a rule that everyone must be fit for combat.”)

  48. Will says:

    When I saw “Fortunato,” I thought the Col. was pulling our leg as in Leon Fortunuato, the characther in “Left Behind,” but this is about one Stephen.
    It would be hard to have seen Stephen doing population oriented COIN. His mind set seems to have been geared toward kinetic operations. His allegiance seems to have been toward his commander rather than to the Constitution.Sad.
    Harks back to the 60’s & 70’s- Okie from Muskogie & America- Love it or Leave it!

  49. Duncan Kinder says:

    To all the pampered and protected Americans who feel it is their duty to inform me that I am not fighting for their freedom, and that i am a pawn in Bush’s agenda of greed and oil acquisition: Noted, and Fuck You.
    It is never appropriate to speak ill of the dead and it certainly is politically incorrect to criticize “the troops.”
    Nevertheless, I can see no purpose for this communication other than to generate hostility to those “pampered and protected Americans” to whom he said, “Fuck you.”
    Unfortunately, the purpose of the military is to serve ALL Americans, including “pampered and protected” ones. To suggest otherwise is – frankly – quite disturbing.

  50. linda says:

    sorry to go ot; but i recall in the previous post about joe the plumber, you wondered about who approached whom. the entire exchange is here; and what’s striking is how much time obama spends respectfully explaining his policy — not blowing the guy off with a quick soundbite, but a real effort to engage. i just thought people might enjoy seeing it:

  51. Fred says:

    “…keep the counter-productive shit to a minimum while the grown ups figure out how to handle this god-awful mess in the middle east. ”
    An army of principle can go where an army of soldiers can not. Someting the founders knew and the neocons do not believe. This man paid with his life for the neo-con failure, which began long before 9-11.

  52. Andy says:

    It seems many commenters here missed the principle point of this “creed” and instead focused on the window dressing. The point is that the value of an individual’s service to our nation in uniform (whether voluntarily or not) does not hinge on the wisdom of the civilian leadership, past, present or future. It certainly doesn’t hinge on individual opinions of whether a death was “tragic” or “pointless” or “heroic” or whatever adjective one wants to use – adjectives that seem as often informed by one’s political leanings than anything else these days. Such labels don’t matter – that he served at all has value by itself and is justification enough. That view is both real and common among those in the military, and it is also a pragmatic view – pragmatic because once one dons the uniform and takes the oaths, one becomes an instrument of policy which obligates him/herself to carry out policy for good or ill, whether one personally disagrees or not, as long as it is consistent with our Constitution. When new leadership comes and a new policy is forged the Spc. Fortunato’s of the armed forces will salute smartly and do their utmost to carry that new policy out without skipping a beat.
    So my sense is that Fortunato’s creed is more about pointing out, using soldier’s language, that truth about the nature of uniformed service and telling the rest of us to not use his death or service to his country for our own biased ends, wherever along the political spectrum we may be. To do so says much more about us and our own predilections that is does about the content and character of Spc. Fortunato and his service and sacrifice for our nation.
    And those of you who make the claim he was naive, perhaps you should take a good, long look in the mirror and consider alternatives. For starters, consider that disagreement does not make another’s viewpoint naive. Or perhaps consider he might know a few things you don’t given that he has actually seen, fought and was ultimately killed by the enemy, and you probably have done none of those things. Perhaps you disagree only on the level of threat posed. Perhaps, in the end, you are both naive, but in different ways, or consider that you may be the naive one.
    Finally, some of the comments here make me fearful of the growing divide between the military and civilian world. There is a growing anger in the military – still just an undercurrent, but growing – that is most often expressed in the open as a variation of the phrase, “the military is at war while the rest of America is at the mall.” In private conversation more soldierly versions of that sentiment are stated and there’s a growing sense that support for the military service person ends with a bumper-sticker slogan on the ass of one’s car. I see that sentiment in Fortunato’s creed and it is becoming more common – the sentiment that the American people are not significantly invested in this great conflict, having even shifted the financial burden to future generations rather than bear any themselves. Left to fester untreated, such sentiments might one day be dangerous to our Republic. I don’t think that eventuality is likely because I have faith in our Constitution and system of government, but nonetheless it’s a trend which must be stopped and the sooner the better.
    One more thing to Kevin Fallon: You really need to read more on Stalinist Russia if you seriously believe there were free men or women there. Even many in Stalin’s inner circle met violent ends. Also, the US Constitution, by itself, guarantees nothing – just ask anyone whose ancestor was a slave in this country. The rights enumerated in the Constitution depend on brave men and women who stand up and sacrifice for them: Patriots – and not just those who wear the uniform.

  53. Dick says:

    Pat – thanks so much for posting this letter. It is a great statement on the polarization of our country these days, thanks in large part to extremist neocon propaganda of the past 30+ years. This poor soul Stephen, may he rest in peace, is representative of their blather so successfully transferred to the minds of many Americans, in uniform and out. No doubt most of these like-minded, enthusiastic young enablers of the GWOT will eventually grow past their wacked-out testosterone levels, and start thinking “upstairs” rather than mostly “downstairs.” Love of country, and love of the military life if that is what one chooses, does not have to preclude thinking independently. Stephens’ letter is just one big Sarah Palin bumper sticker. Plus, he blithely passes off as acceptable trade-offs – what he openly admits to – the corporate thievery, BushCo ineptness, and a war for power and profit and oil. Stephen, if you had been completely patriotic, these things (whether they actually exist or not) would be unacceptable, too.

  54. The Moar You Know says:

    This is unfortunate. There are those of us who fought very hard to try to insure that this young man didn’t have to die. I understand WHY he has been taught that those of us who have done so are his enemy, but I don’t have to like it. That he is dead is a tragedy for his family and for us all.
    I’m reluctant to say anything about his letter because he is, in fact, deceased. I would prefer some give and take about what he wrote about, and to be able to give him a chance to rebut. But I will write on, with the hope that the good Colonel will see fit not to post this if it is out of line, and I recognize that it could be.
    I find both his defensive bellicosity and his seething contempt for the civilian populace very unnerving. Especially his attitudes towards civilians – “complete fuck-ups” some of them are, but those fuck-ups are also our fellow citizens. We are all in this together for the common welfare, and it seems that the good specialist lost sight of that somewhere along the way.
    His referencing of “free speech” as a privilege, instead of the constitutionally protected, sacred right that it is, is no accident – those who trained him did it well. To lump free speech in with a welfare program like WIC and to postulate that the two are somehow equivalent is horrifying.
    Our armed forces, first and foremost, are under civilian leadership and dependent on civilians for their existence – not the other way around. This young man seemed to believe the opposite. I would hate to think that the attitude towards civilians and the civilian government displayed by this soldier is representative in any way of how our young men are being indoctrinated – if it is, we’re going to have some serious trouble with them when they return.

  55. Steve says:

    I am reluctant to speak ill of a young man who died for his country.

  56. Ormolov says:

    In response to Tom B:
    You want to come up with any other examples besides Yorktown, which is now a good 230 years or so old?
    Warmongers want to make every conflict we’ve ever involved ourselves in an existential conflict, where the entire existence of our country is threatened a lal RED DAWN, with nasty Cuban and Soviet soldiers going house to house in Colorado.
    In fact, the only time since Yorktown where the military has actually defended this country from destruction is the Civil War. Even in WWII we were only threatened in the abstract. Hawaii wasn’t a state yet.
    In Tripoli, in Cuba, in the Philippines, in places like Ypres and Verdun, in Korea, in Vietnam, in Grenada, in Panama, in Iraq both the first and second times, we were not defending our homes from a ravening band of marauders who wanted to kill us and take our land. Even Al Qaeda (all two thousand strong) doesn’t want to destroy us but convert us to their version of the true path. Afghanistan is a country without a strong central government where a band of American-sponsored takfiri jihadis engaged in some serious blowback after we invented them during the mujahideen conflict of the 80’s.
    You and Fortunato love to throw in our faces the absolute loss of America and our way of life every time we don’t agree that our wars of adventure are anything other than imperialist maneuvers. Yet in our entire historical record you’ve only got fear-mongering from contemporaries of the conflicts who had vested interests in dropping bombs.
    Fortunato, for all his bravery and commitment, is very much what is wrong with this country. Admiring people like him is the hallmark of nationalists and jingoists the world over.
    General and then President Washington only fought in true defense of this country. I honor him for that. Many of the millions who fought and died after him are worth our respect as well. Many of them were fighting for the liberation of their fellow men. But did they do it, as Fortunato would have it, to save our homes from the enemy? No.
    “Even if this is just a war for profit or to assert America’s power, so what? Someone has to be on top and I want it to be us. There’s nothing wrong with wishing prosperity for your side.”
    If that isn’t the inhumane doctrine of an imperial bully, I don’t know what is.

  57. kao-hsien-chih says:

    I have to confess that, while I’m moved by Mr. Fortunato’s sacrifice, I’m extremely bothered by what he has to say.
    Free speech and other constitutional rights are not “privileges.” They are rights won through blood in the fight against King George of 18th century and they are rights that we are–and should be, if we are deserving of them–still ready to keep in another fight against another King George or whoever that would trespass upon them today.
    I think to say that we should “shut up” while “grown ups” try to figure out is an insult upon us all–and the principles upon which this country is founded. One might as well have told George Washington that he should shut up and put upwhile the grown ups in London were trying to figure out the messes around the world. As much as I laud the sacrifices that men like Mr. Fortunato are making, I think people like him–and their way of thinking–represent a dangerous threat to United States and what it stands for.

  58. Patrick Lang says:

    The moar you know
    Try to get past your bigotry against the military to grasp the idea that the military did not give this young man his political ideas. Try.
    The military does not indoctrinate people politically. Ours are not the kind of politically aware forces that you might imagine. you know, forces that have political officers (commissars) whose function is to ensure “correct” group think about politics. The military actually goes to a lot of trouble to avoid talking about things like that.
    No. Fortunato got his political ideas in the civilian society that he emerged from.
    Guess what? A lot of your fellow civilians don’t like people like you. Those people tend to join the armed forces in disproportionate numbers because they are nationalists. pl

  59. Michael D. Adams says:

    “…No. Fortunato got his political ideas in the civilian society that he emerged from….”
    Col, this is absolutely on the mark!
    My shrink reminded me about a month ago that I told him in late 2001 that the military would be contaminated by this new generation of hate radio programmed, revenge movie fed, Dirty Harry wannabeem civilians and there would surely be atrocities and torture.
    I had my epiphany listening to a very popular right wing ex-marine Hate Radio jock called “The Kimmer” on WGST in Atlanta in late 2001. He was actually encouraging war crimes and torture on the air.
    Another irony with this guy was that all his whiny Walter Mitty call ins would say “Simper Fi, Kimmer” at the end of their calls to this manly marine. Simper Fi? The Kimmer was the same guy who later viciously smeared disabled veteran Senator Max Cleland as a traitor and coward and you name it.
    Yes, this is the same Max Cleland who volunteered to relieve Marines at Keh Sanh and in the process lost both legs and an arm. The Kimmer said Max blew himself up.
    Here we have our hate radio culture contaminating the culture and the concept of Simper Fi itself.

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