Godspeed, John Murtha

Rep. John Murtha, 1932-2010

I’ll be the first to say that I didn’t know John Murtha personally. I met him very briefly as I was leaving the Army, campaigning to end the Iraq War and make sure that the women and men I had served with were being cared for. But I didn’t know him, and I’m sure he wouldn’t have been able to pick me out of a crowd.

That said, I’ll miss him. John Murtha did something that is altogether too rare these days: he admitted he made a mistake, and then fought like hell to rectify it.

Murtha voted for the 2002 war resolution that sent me to fight in Iraq. He continued supporting the war through 2005. Then, in November of 2005, Murtha introduced House Joint Resolution 73. In introducing it, Murtha said:

The U.S. cannot accomplish anything further in Iraq militarily. It is time to bring them home.

Murtha didn’t stop there, though. He fought like the dickens to bring the war to a close. The war’s still going on, but the last Marines have left Iraq, and our military presence should end next year. None of that would’ve been possible without John Murtha.

Murtha was the first Vietnam veteran to serve in Congress. He retired from the Marine Corps Reserves as a Colonel in 1990. He served a tour in Vietnam from 1966-67 as a battalion S-2, and received a Bronze Star with Valor device, two Purple Hearts, and the Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry.

He wasn’t a progressive by any stretch of the imagination; he was, it’s safe to say, a product of his times, both personal and political, and let’s just leave it at that.

I’ll be grateful to him, though, for picking up a lonely fight and giving it every ounce of effort and ferocity. He was an example to us all.

Godspeed, John Murtha. It’s time for you to come home, stack arms, and rest.

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