Mark Daily: "A Force of Good in the World"

I actually lost a girlfriend because I had the audacity to believe this very thing:
"I genuinely believe the United States Army is a force of good in this world"
The immortal words of 2LT Mark Daily live on. The Los Angeles Times has picked up the story: "Mark Daily wrote on MySpace that he joined the Army to help the suffering people of Iraq. In death, his words have become a call to service."

A small sample:

In a 2005 videotape of his officers' commissioning ceremony, Daily told the crowd that the U.S. Army is one of the few militaries in the world that teach not only tactics but also ethics. "I genuinely believe the United States Army is a force of good in this world," he said. ...

In Mark Daily's own words:
So that is why I joined. In the time it took you to read this explanation, innocent people your age have suffered under the crushing misery of tyranny.

Don't forget that human beings have a responsibility to one another and that Americans have a responsibility to the oppressed. Assisting a formerly oppressed population in converting their torn society into a plural, democratic one is dangerous and difficult business, especially when being attacked and sabotaged from literally every direction.

So if you have anything to say to me at the end of this reading, let it at least include "Good Luck."

Go to Michelle Malkin for more.

Remarks. It gets better. Here's more from the LA Times story:
"Anyone who knew me before I joined knows that I am quite aware and at times sympathetic to the arguments against the war in Iraq. If you think the only way a person could bring themselves to volunteer for this war is through sheer desperation or blind obedience then consider me the exception."

Mark Daily, born on the Fourth of July, grew up in Irvine's Woodbridge Village, on a street of spacious homes and well-manicured lawns. His father, John, is an aerospace project manager; his mother, Linda, an audiologist.

His family says he became a registered Democrat who read voraciously and delighted in fervent debate. He read liberal intellectual Noam Chomsky, conservative Sen. John McCain of Arizona and everything in between.

His first passions were animal rights and environmental protection, prompting him to become a vegetarian and Green Party member in high school for a few years. He defended American Indian rights so loudly in one backyard debate that Linda Daily imagined the neighbors would think it a family brawl. His heroes were immigrants because "they risk their lives to achieve better ones," he wrote on his MySpace page.

Damn. I think I know this guy.
After the 9/11 attacks, Daily was not convinced that a military response was the best option. In his MySpace essay, he runs through the gamut of reasons he used at one time or another to argue against confronting the Taliban and Saddam Hussein: cultural tolerance, the sanctity of national sovereignty, a suspicion of America's intentions. Weren't we really after their oil? he wondered.

Somewhere along the way, he changed his mind. His family says there was no epiphany. Writings by author and columnist Christopher Hitchens on the moral case for war deeply influenced him. A 2003 phone conversation with a UCLA ROTC officer on the ideals of commitment and service impressed him.

Ultimately, his family says, Daily came to believe that his lifelong altruistic impulses and passions for the underdog had to extend to Iraqis crushed under decades of oppression. It was time to stop simply talking about human rights and actually do something to help secure them.

"There was no epiphany" - only a gradual, reasoned evolution of views. He considered every viewpoint in the debate, and he took the time to inform himself about the facts. Are you listening, Jay Dixit?
Daily touched down in Iraq on Nov. 19 and was sent to the northern city of Mosul. In calls and e-mails home, he began asking for presents for his new Iraqi friends: cigars for the soldiers, candy and soccer balls for the children. He vividly described his adventures with them: a Thanksgiving Day game of musical chairs, a rooftop cigar session; his first Kurdish meal, his first local haircut.

In one video he sent, Iraqi soldiers surround him with grins, crowning him with a turban as a gesture of friendship.

In typical fashion, he sought out new points of view. In one discussion, he wrote that he asked a Kurdish man whether the insurgents could be viewed as freedom fighters. The man cut him off. "The difference between insurgents and American soldiers," Daily said the man told him, "is that they get paid to take life — to murder — and you get paid to save lives."

"That Kurdish man's assessment of our presence means more to me than all of the naysayers and makeshift humanists that monopolize our interpretation of this war," Daily wrote in a Dec. 31 e-mail.

Daily was killed by a roadside bomb on January 15, one day after sending an e-mail to his parents saying, "All is well. More war stories then I can fit in this e-mail. Having the time of my life!"