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August 01, 2005

Michael Yon

There isn’t a Pulitzer Prize for blogs yet.

That’s a shame. There is a lot of great reporting going on out among the internets but the lack of an award gives you an opportunity to be “in the know” before anyone else.

Michael Yon’s weblog is one of the best reads on the war in Iraq. It’s insightful, witty, poignant, touching, and perhaps the closest thing to Ernie Pyle’s great standard of combat journalism that I’ve read in a long while.

Yon’s latest piece, titled “Welcome Aboard”, is a great piece about foreign nationals who are members of the United States military. It’s about men who have taken up arms for our country with an eye on the goal of citizenship.

He demonstrates his skill as a writer with a wonderfully insightful paragraph:

There's another soldier here from Mexico, Victor Quinonez. Everyone calls him Q. At 23, Q fights like crazy; he's earned his great combat reputation. I joke with Q that he'll either be a top military leader, or in trouble with the law if he doesn't listen to his leaders. And Q always tells me, "Mike, when the shit goes down and the bullets are flying, you stick with me and I'll get you out. Never fear when the Q is here! You've seen me in action. You know I'll get you out. I'm a Mexican, not a Mexican't!"

I love that. You know that Yon didn’t have to make that up. Things that “real” don’t need to be made up. Instead he took an amazing quote, set it up and then let it stand by itself. Brilliant.

Before the U.S. was involved in either of the World Wars American’s joined many of the other countries militaries. Americans who faught in the Spanish Civil War are well documented. Generally this is a country whose moral compass is, for the most part, in the right place.

I’ve tried to explain my ferocious loyalty to this country at several different times during my life. Certainly it’s not perfect in every way we would like but it’s underlying principle, that anyone, from anywhere, can build a better future for themselves and their descendents, hasn’t changed. Our local grocery store has several employees that were “lost boys” from the horrific genocides in Africa over a decade ago. These young men have married, started families and are working to build a better future, one that doesn’t include machete wielding lunatics and death.

Yon’s piece winds down with this:

It's been true since the U.S. was founded that some of the best Americans were not born in America. And we can use all the good people we can get. That's something to remember.

Something that most people seem to forget.

My earnest hope is that Yon’s work is published in a newspaper. That would allow his work to be submitted for the Pulitzer and some well deserved credit to come his way.

Go read Michael Yon while I try to figure out how to thank the men and women from foreign lands who have protected my son every day and night. Words fail at the thought but perhaps the easiest that come to mind are how privilaged we are that they would want to be our fellow citizens.

Michael Yon's website

Posted by Jim at August 1, 2005 12:33 AM


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