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Sunshine patriot needs long visit to brig - Tamara Boatwright

Just when I think I have heard everything, I hear something else that makes me ask, "Do what?"

There is a young man in Florida who is refusing to fight in Iraq as a member of the 1st Battalion, 124th Infantry Regiment of the Florida National Guard because "This is an oil-driven war, and I don't think any soldier signs up to fight for oil."

Well, tell me exactly why a soldier signs up to "fight for." Freedom, justice and the American way?

Lordy, I wasn't aware you got to choose what you fought for as a member of the military.

I agree that this is an "oil-driven war" but I didn't volunteer to serve and then voluntarily sign up to extend my service as a member of the National Guard. As a soldier, you go where you are told to go and do what you are told to do. That requirement is made abundantly clear to you when you volunteer to serve.

Staff Sgt. Camilo Mejia, 28, who served five months in Iraq, got a little shook up after a gunfight killed some innocent civilians in Iraq. So last October when he came home on leave, he decided that he just wouldn't go back. I guess it took him 4 ? months, through the holidays at home with his family I might add, to decide that this was in fact an "oil driven war" and he wanted no part of it.

"I'm prepared to go to prison because I'll have a clear conscience," he says.

Yea, right.

Tell me Staff Sgt. Mejia, why the heck did you join the Army in the first place? Oh yea, you told the Associated Press that you are a native of Nicaragua who joined the Army so you could work your way into American society.

Puuulllleeeeeeze.

"Whatever sacrifice I have to make, I have to go there," Mejia says.

I know of several Guard members who aren't crazy about leaving their families. They aren't crazy about what this war is all about and they aren't real happy about the fact that this thing probably won't be over for some time to come. But, they suck it up and do what they swore they would do. They go on leave and return to their unit. That's sacrifice.

But not to be outdone, Mejia is joined by two Pfcs who, the day before their Germany-based 1st Battalion, 18th Infantry Regiment deployed to Iraq, decided that they wanted to declare themselves "conscientious objectors."

They want, according to the Associated Press, to be honorably discharged because the idea of killing is "revolting."

Do what?

Now I'm sure we all understand that this is a volunteer military. No longer are letters sent out that begin with "Greetings?" requiring you to report to some depot and be processed into years of involuntary servitude. Individuals make their own decision to join the branch of service of their choice.

If you join the Army chances are pretty good that you will be issued an automatic weapon and possibly a sidearm also. Chances are you will have to qualify with that weapon and chances are, unfortunately, that you will have to use that weapon to defend yourself and others.

War is tough. Innocent men, women and children get killed. It's horrible, it's hard to get over n if you really ever do n but you have a choice now days.

And there are plenty of ways to work yourself into American society. Getting a job is one of the more common.

So, Staff Sgt. Mejia, you get no sympathy here. You and your objector pals made your own bed. You should sleep in it n in a brig.

And to all the others who, unlike Mejia and his unidentified pals, do what you have to do despite how you feel about this war. A big, giant, heart-felt thanks.

This left-wing, yellow dog Democrat appreciates and respects you and hopes this nightmare is over real soon.

Tamara Boatwright is the managing editor of the News Daily and Daily Herald. She may be reached at (770) 478-5753 Ext. 272 or via e-mail at tboatwright@news-daily.com.