Thoughts from my USO tour to Iraq

I’ve just returned from a trip to Iraq after an initial stop in Kuwait with actor Marshall Teague, who you know from films like ”The Rock,” ”Armageddon,” and TV programs like, ”Babylon 5,” ”Sliders,” and of course ”Walker, Texas Ranger.”

We went to visit and encourage service members as part of a United Service Organization (USO) tour. I’ll share some of the inspiring moments in next Monday’s article (and maybe a photo or two)! [Note: See video from Chuck’s trip.]

As in past years, I left the region more inspired by our troops than I believe they were by me. They make me proud to be American. Their sacrifice also reminds me that freedom is born in adversity and purchased at a price.

As I looked in the eyes of these freedom fighters, I began to wonder about the world we would leave to our children, and the nation I would leave to my own children and grandchildren.

A Traditional Warrior Comes Out

I agree with Bill O’Reilly in his new book, ”Culture Warrior,” that America is in an intense cultural battle that is transcending partisan politics or simple conservative-liberal debates.

At the heart of this war is a head-on clash between traditional and ”secular-progressive” camps. Will we become a country, in which licentiousness and lawlessness reign? Or will we maintain being a traditional nation, based upon the values and philosophies that our forefathers established?

I am an unashamed traditional warrior. What that means to me is that I believe our country was founded upon conservative faith and values, and that it will only be sustained by them as well.

My concern for our culture wars, however, goes far beyond our own shores.

From Culture Battles to World Wars

Right now, in the very center of this culture war (bubbling up even in the election) is the war in Iraq. Everyone is taking a side: Should we stay, change or abandon the course?

Here’s where I stand.

Whatever the reasons we went in, we’re there now. Our troops are there. And they are fighting for the freedom and democracy of more than 12 million Iraqis, who courageously went to the polls months ago to establish a new constitution and government.

At the same time, I also believe our service men and women are fighting for America in Iraq. Yes, America, or more specifically, our children, grandchildren and even great-grandchildren.

President Bush explained it well in his recent interview with Bill O’Reilly:

”Here’s the stakes, as far as I’m concerned. It is conceivable that within decades, the Middle East will be a place where moderate governments have been toppled, extremists and radicals will have gained control of oil resources … to create a blackmail situation against the West and Iran will have a nuclear weapon, to complicate the mix. And 20 or 30 years from now if that is the case, people will say, ‘what happened to them? How come you couldn’t see the threat as a generation of Americans are dealing with something much more violent than we are seeing today?”

The fact is our soldiers are fighting for freedom in Iraq. At the same time, they are also fighting for the future preservation of freedom here in America, just as all our veterans did.

The Price of Freedom

No one likes war, least of all me. Being personal friends of the Bush family, I can assure you they don’t like it either.

We all felt the same when we heard about the 100-plus troops who have died in Iraq in just the past month. One is always too many.

Each of them has a family left behind – those who will suffer over the holidays and beyond because of the bravery of their loved ones.

I do understand their pain, every time I think about my brother, Wieland, who also paid the ultimate price in Vietnam. I’ll never forget when I received the news. I miss him still, all the time.

My brother fought a foreign war, as many of our service members do today. I refuse to believe that he died in vain. I also refuse to believe those 100 souls (plus the hundreds previously) did as well.

Their sacrifice makes me think of Jesus’ words, “Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends.” I’m assuming that includes world friends and neighbors too.

Don’t Be MIA on Election Day

You might not be in the military, but you can certainly still fight for freedom, right here on our own shores. How? By voting!

With the culture wars at full tilt, it is somewhat surprising that expected voter turn out is forecasted as low as 35 percent. This is particularly troubling since Democrats only need to pick up six seats to gain a majority in the 100-seat Senate. They need only 15 seats out of the 435-seat House to achieve their first majority since being swept out of power in 1994.

To not vote is simply a vote for the opposition. As British statesman Edmund Burke once said, ”Evil flourishes when good men do nothing.”

Texas Tough

Friends, tough times call for tough conservative people!
So, if you’re waffling on the fence, time to get down and take a stand, even if it’s unpopular with all your colleagues.

I figure if the media can rally behind an actor when he takes a stand for stem-cell research, they can equally back me when I support the war and our troops, increasing border control or voting for Governor Rick Perry in my home state of Texas.

I haven’t always been warmly welcomed for holding my conservative positions in Hollywood. Then again, I’ve never been very good at being politically correct either, on or off screen.

So why start now?

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