Dennis Weichel, an American Hero
Sergeant Dennis Weichel is an American hero, though you would never know that from watching the news. Media today is driven much like the rest of the world; by money. Stories that sell make the nightly news reel. Often this is not a bad thing. Controversy sells, scandal sells, and conspiracy sells; because of this much of the media journalism today is focused on highlighting controversy, uncovering scandals, and derailing conspiracies. It is this type of demand that causes news media to emphasize investigative journalism, thereby giving the public the truth they would not otherwise see. Sometimes, however, this demand means real news worthy stories gets little or no coverage.
We have witnessed the media cover military scandals and atrocities with intense magnification of every detail, the way a teenage girl obsesses over her Facebook friends posts. What we have not seen however, is coverage of our militaries heroic and selfless service. When we turn on the nightly news we can understand why so much of the world opposes the American military; all we hear is negative press. For months the only news out of Afghanistan has been about Quran burnings and a massacre. No one thinks anything good about our military because no media says anything good about our military. In this case, the reality on the ground could not be further from the picture painted by the media. For every Abu Ghraib there is a Pat Tillman, for every defiling of a dead body there is a Marcus Luttrell, and for every massacre there is a Dennis Weichel.
Sgt. Weichel, a 29 year old Rhode Island National Guardsman, recently gave his life to save the life of an Afghan girl. While participating in a convoy in the eastern Afghan province or Laghman, Sgt. Weichel and his company came across a group of children in the road. They appeared to be picking up shell casings from spent ammunition, which the families then recycle for money. The convoy stopped, taking time to clear the children from the road. As the convoy began to move again Sgt. Weichel apparently stayed with the children to make sure the convoy passed safely. As an MRAP vehicle, (Mine Resistant Ambush Protected Vehicle) which can way as much as 16 tons, approached where Sgt. Weichel was positioned, a young Afghan girl bolted onto the road to retrieve one lase shell casing. Sgt. Weichel reacted, grabbing the girl and removing her from the path of the vehicle. Unfortunately, Sgt. Weichel was not able to get out of the way in time. He was struck by the massive MRAP, and later died in a Jalalabad medical center. This is the type of heroic act is what makes our military so extraordinary. The actions of those few who humiliate our troops and embarrass our nation are the exception. We hear so much about them because they sell, but the heroic actions of Sgt. Weichel are much more typical of our military. While at the height of the anti-Iraq war rhetoric the media produced I was living in Australia, where I met thousands of Iraqi refugees. Curious to see what the war was really like, I asked every one of them I spoke to what they thought of George Bush and the American military. Their answers shocked me, and enlightened my view of the Iraq War. To my surprise, not a single person had a negative thing to say. Many even spoke of President Bush with the same jubilation as an evangelical speaking of Jesus. I heard story after story of the same heroics and genuine love common in our military; these stories do not sell newspapers, so they are not retold. Sgt. Weichel has given us a vivid demonstration of the true nature of our fighting men and women.
This act is so heroic it needs no more emphasis, but we would not be serving Sgt. Weichel, or his sacrifice justice if we did not look at this from another perspective; the girl whose life was saved. It is not clear how old this girl is, but ten short years ago her life, or that of her mother and older sisters, was dominated by extreme traditionalism. Under the Taliban regime she had no rights; in fact, she was considered a second class citizen. She was allowed no formal education after age eight, and her life would be limited to service in the home. That is not necessarily a bad thing, but under Taliban rule she had no other choice. The sole purpose for her existence was to bare children and tend to her home. She could not show her face in public, she could not speak in public. If she even wished to venture passed her front gate, Taliban law mandated that she cover every part of her body and be accompanied by a male counterpart who must be a family member. She was allowed no physical contact–not even a simple handshake–with any man outside her family. Moreover, even if she would be raped it would not be uncommon for her father to kill her for being raped in order to save the family honor. She had no freedom of expression, and no individuality. She was very literally owned by her father, and one day, would be owned by her husband; a husband she could be forced to marry by the will of her father, who owned her, whether she wished to or not. This, and even more, was the life this little girl–and every girl under the Taliban–lived as a reality just ten short years ago.
Today, however, her world has more possibilities than any women could have dreamed of. School attendance among girls is steadily on the rise; music and dancing are no longer outlawed; women have rights under law, and even represent constituents in parliament. This is possible only because of brave heroes like Sgt. Weichel, who sacrifice every day, and even make the ultimate sacrifice when necessary, in order for these girls to be treated as equals. The freedom of this one young girl meant so much to Sgt. Weichel that he left behind three children and a fiancé so she could be among the first generation of girls in Afghanistan raised with aspirations and dreams. As much as the enemies of America like to single out the rare events in our military that highlight our lowest points, let it never be forgotten that our military is full of men who care so deeply about the people they serve that they will give every last ounce of effort they have to make sure the future of a complete stranger is as bright as theirs was when they were a child. No matter what picture the media or our enemies paint of the United States military remember this: the Taliban, Al Qaeda, and those who fight against us insist it is this young girls place to be owned, to be commanded, and to be repressed; Sgt. Weichel, and thousands of men like him are willing to make the ultimate sacrifice to make sure these girls grow up truly knowing what freedom is. That is what our military stands for day in and day out, no matter what the prime time news might say. That is what makes this nation the greatest on earth.
8 April, 2012
Posted on April 9, 2012, in Patriotslog Articles and tagged Abu Ghraib, Afghanistan, Dennis Weichel, hero, Koran burnings, marine massacre, MRAP, national guardsman, Pat Tillman, politics, Quran burnings, Sgt. Weichel, shell casings, soldier sacrifices life, taliban. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.