On Saturday I said that the gulf between Gen. John Kelly and his detractors was just “too wide to bridge“. Yesterday the Wall Street Journal republished an account by Gen. Kelly of the death of two Marines. I think it amply illustrates the breadth and depth of that gulf.
You can watch the last six seconds of their young lives. Putting myself in their heads I supposed it took about a second for the two Marines to separately come to the same conclusion about what was going on once the truck came into their view at the far end of the alley. Exactly no time to talk it over, or call the sergeant to ask what they should do. Only enough time to take half an instant and think about what the sergeant told them to do only a few minutes before: “let no unauthorized personnel or vehicles pass.” The two Marines had about five seconds left to live.
. . .
In all of the instantaneous violence Yale and Haerter never hesitated. By all reports and by the recording, they never stepped back. They never even started to step aside. They never even shifted their weight. With their feet spread shoulder width apart, they leaned into the danger, firing as fast as they could work their weapons. They had only one second left to live.
The truck explodes. The camera goes blank. Two young men go to their God. Six seconds. Not enough time to think about their families, their country, their flag, or about their lives or their deaths, but more than enough time for two very brave young men to do their duty—into eternity. That is the kind of people who are on watch all over the world tonight—for you.
There’s more at the link. You should read it all.
I’ll let the late President Reagan sum it up. He was speaking of Marines, but his words apply to all US servicemen at a time like this.
And that’s what Gen. Kelly’s detractors cannot and will never understand – because they don’t know the meaning of sacrifice, and have never put anyone else’s lives ahead of their own in that ultimately self-sacrificial way.