U.S. Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, the final remaining captured American soldier, has been released.
U.S. Army soldier Bowe Bergdahl has recently been released from capture, after being held captive by Taliban insurgents for five years. The U.S. released five prisoners from Guantanamo Bay in exchange for Bergdahl. The prisoners are: Abdul Haq Wasiq, Mullah Norullah , Khairullah Khairkhwa, Mohammed Nabi, Mohammad Fazl (all are former high ranking Taliban officials, and are straight up bad dudes).
The White House released the following statement on the matter:
“Today the American people are pleased that we will be able to welcome home Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl, held captive for nearly five years. On behalf of the American people, I was honored to call his parents to express our joy that they can expect his safe return, mindful of their courage and sacrifice throughout this ordeal. Today we also remember the many troops held captive and whom remain missing or unaccounted for in America’s past wars. Sergeant Bergdahl’s recovery is a reminder of America’s unwavering commitment to leave no man or woman in uniform behind on the battlefield. And as we find relief in Bowe’s recovery, our thoughts and prayers are with those other Americans whose release we continue to pursue. . . .”
It’s a great moment to have a soldier return home after being a POW; however, I’m afraid that Bowe’s welcoming will be short lived. For many people in the country, outside of the ardent military news followers, the most surprising aspect of this story isn’t that Sergeant Bergdhal’s has been release, it’s that there was still even a capture American soldier in the first place. The wars of today are not like the wars of yesterday. In WWI, WWII, Korea, Vietnam, etc, the entire nation was enthralled in the affairs of the military and wars. But today? Many people wear t-shirts, and have bumper stickers on their cars, but people in this country are not as effected, and affected, by the wars as they used to be. If you’re been following the news, it means that Bergdahl is coming home to a country that is politically torn apart, fighting its way out of a recession, and that after five years in the care of the Taliban, he’ll be coming home to receive VA care from a broken system.
We went to war with Afghanistan because the Taliban were allowing terrorists to freely train under their tutelage, protection, and control. Now we are releasing five high ranking Taliban insurgents. We will be leaving Afghanistan in a matter of years, and Bergdahl, along with his fellow veterans, is coming home to a country that had forgotten about him, forgotten about the war, and to a government that sees its veterans as nothing more than a strain on the bank account. Many are talking about Bergdahl’s release, but we cannot allow it to distract us from the issues facing veterans and how it is, and why, we got ourselves into this mess in the first place.
But that’s not the end of it. There have been rumors for years that Bergdahl wasn’t a POW, but was instead a deserter. There are stories that Bergdahl willing walked off base. That he was anti-American and a traitor. Many people are saying that because of this he didn’t deserve to come home, that he shouldn’t have been rescued and that he certainly shouldn’t have been traded for known terrorists. These are all good, valid points; however, these people are missing one important thing. Bergdahl is an American soldier, and the facts are that we don’t know the facts. The American justice system works on the notion: Innocent Until Proven Guilty. Many people are willing to hang Bergdahl before the full truth is known. Those people are misguided. At the moment, Bergdahl is an American soldier who was a POW, who was held against his will (he tried to escape several times), and who withstood harsher conditions than 99.9% of American’s could ever understand, or grasp. If he’s guilty of desertion, sure, absolutely, give him a dishonorable discharge, but he’s still an American, and he’s still warranted the basic American principle of Innocent Until Proven Guilty. Because if we don’t live by our principles, then what were we fighting for over there? I fought, I’ve been there, and it’s these basic principles that men and women have fought and died for. It’s moments like these which test our country most.
–Photo: U.S. Army/Flickr