Corpsman Lewis

I was recently sent a copy of the famous letter from Corpsman Lonnie J. Lewis to his mother regarding anti-war protestation.

Read, it. It's an interesting letter written from the perspective of a young man who obviously took his oath to "defend my country against all enemies, foreign and domestic" seriously. How we are "defending" our country from a third world dictator who hasn't attacked us is beyond me, but Lewis believes that's what he's doing, so I'll take him at his word. But, what Corpsman Lewis forgot to mention was that he also took an oath to "support and defend the Constitution" which clearly requires Congress to declare war prior to hostilities. The current Administration is clearly in violation of the Constitution in a manner that makes Clinton's lies about sex seem insignificant. Gene Healy said it best:

We've got an administration that repeatedly and brazenly lies to us–not about the president's sex life, but about matters of war and peace. And we've got a president, who–shades of William McKinley–thinks God talks to him and tells him to start wars. I haven't felt this disgusted since Clinton was bombing asprin factories to distract the media from his inability to keep his pants up.

Corpsman Lewis asks "What type of country would we be if we didn't defend the rights and freedoms of others, not because they're Americans, but how about just because they're human?"

We would be a country that took it's Constitutional restraints seriously. Regardless of emotional wants, desires and nationalistic catch-phrases, we simply aren't allowed to topple regimes just because the man in charge is an inhumane monster. If that were the case, we'd be obligated to go after Nigeria, China, Cuba, North Korea, and even a few of our "allies" like Pakistan, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia. All of those nations have horrible records with regard to human rights and suppression of basic civil liberties we Americans are guaranteed via the Bill of Rights.

I support our troops, but I oppose the Administration's reckless use of our military and it's choice to place them in harm's way in an un-Constitutional war. And I'll not shut up about just because some people have decided to confuse nationalism with patriotism.

I'm not alone, no less a patriot than Colonel David Hackworth believes this war is a mistake. In fact, we both signed the letter to President Bush (along with 1000 other veterans, including two Admirals and a General) in opposition to the current war. In a story related to the Corpsman's letter, the grandfather of Lewis expressed the familiar sentiment "It's my country right or wrong. If you don't like it, then get the hell out" as justification for war. Platitudes such as "my country right or wrong" are bold-faced expressions of nationalism, not patriotism. To those paying attention, there is a world of difference.

Update: One item about the Lewis letter that strikes me as odd is his statement "I am a United States soldier." Lewis claims to be a corpsman, which would place him in the medical field in the Navy. No Sailor would ever refer to himself as a "soldier." Every petty officer within a 500 mile radius would be breathing down his neck, assuring him that he definitely was not a "soldier."

Further, it violates everything I know about every corpsman I ever served with to see Lewis advocating war. It's just a tad contradictory to see a medic advocating killing. Call me crazy, but it doesn't fit the profile.

Lastly, and I say this as a former Marine who took the oath on several occasions, Lewis didn't take an oath to "defend my country against all enemies, foreign and domestic." He took an oath to "support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same." There is more than just a subtle difference between the two.

The Lewis letter reads like something written by a PR office not familiar with military protocol, not by a 19 or 20 year-old Navy corpsman.



    The above URL shows the Constitution of the United States. I’d like to point out Section 8 particularly. It indicates Congress shall have the Power to declare war. No where in the constitution (yes, I read the whole thing–including the amendments) does it say Congress must declare war or that congressional declaration of war is required before engaging in any hostilities. If that was so, Bill Clinton is in violation as he ordered many strikes against Iraq, Mogadishu, and Bosnia without any Congressional declaration of war. Military strikes are hostile actions. I’d also like to point out Article 8 includes these 2 clauses:
    “To raise and support Armies, but no Appropriation of Money to that Use shall be for a longer Term than two Years; and To provide and maintain a Navy”. Am I to conclude with these clauses, that our existing monetary support of our Army is unconstitional, seeing taxpayer money has been supporting it for well over 2 years? I’d also like to quote the oath of enlistment all of us enlisted service members had to take: I (state your full name) do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic. That I will bear truth faith and allegiance to the same. That I will obey the orders of the President and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice, so help me God (leave out so help me God if affirming instead of swearing. Corpsman Lewis was sworn to defend his country’s Constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic. shows where Congress did, in fact, authorize the use of military force to liberate Iraq and indicates Iraq’s connection with Al Queda. shows where Pres Bush signed Senate Joint Resolution 23, the “Authorization for Use of Military Force.” gives information on how Iraq harbors and supplies Al Queda and other terrorists. This war in Iraq is just part of the overall War on Terror. Saddam Hussein is a terrorist. Kim Jong Il is a terrorist. They are just a few of many national leaders who are terrorists and support terrorism. It’s easy to question why we’re defending a country against a dictator who hasn’t directly done anything to us, but I see fallacy in that logic. I was in Lajes Field, Azores, Portugal on 11 Sep 01. My state of residence is PA. No one in my family was hurt or killed that day. The crash in PA near Somerset happened about 40 miles from my mother’s house, so why should we take action against some little terrorist group in some foreign country that hasn’t affected us directly? Why should I care what happens in NYC? I don’t live there and have no family there that I know of. Why should I care what happened to the USS Cole? I’m not in the Navy–I’m Air Force. Saddam may be sitting comfortably in Baghdad, but he has power to give orders to terrorists and have his orders executed. John McCain, a senator from Arizona supports the war with Iraq ( If anyone has earned the right to voice his opinon regarding whether or not we should go into battle against Iraq, John McCain certainly has. He spent 5 years as a POW in Viet Nam. Many current anti-war protestors aren’t necessarily anti-war, they are anti-Bush. It’s odd these anti-war protestors weren’t saying anything when Clinton was striking in Bosnia.

  2. Actually BJ, lots of folks, including those Republican chickenhawks currently advocating war were opposed to Clinton’s “wag the dog” bombings. Further, Section 8 to the Constitution does not allow Congress to issue blank check authorization to the President, it allows Congress to declare war, not subjugate the task to the Administration.

    Further, even a Republican Representative Ron Paul disagrees with you on war powers:

    Also the quotes from our founders and some more recent legislators at this link tell a different tale:

    Lastly, the perspective of much smarter man than I ends the discussion:

  3. We, as Americans, have our right of freedom of speech. I’m am very proud of my little brother (by the way, he’s 24) for writing such a powerful and meaningful letter that has touched many lives. Just to make things clear, he is educated and is able to write and doesn’t need to have a PR offfice do it for him. Our family, each and everyone of us, have many different views on what is happening in Iraq. However, one thing that we can all agree on is our unconditional love for our troops.

    1. Indeed, we do have freedom of speech. Isn’t it great that no one here was advocating against your brother’s freedom of speech? You weren’t falsely implying otherwise, were you? That would have been lying.

      24 vs. 20 is not that much of a difference. Close enough for government work, as we used to say when I wore a uniform.

      Still, you have the bizarro world occurrence of a Sailor falsely calling himself a “soldier”. A Soldier serves in the United States Army. A uniformed member of the United States Navy, even one serving with U.S. Marines, is still called a Sailor, not a “soldier.” Your brother still needs to explain that gigantic discrepancy in what he “wrote.” No one said he wasn’t educated or capable of writing a letter. The problem is that a Sailor supposedly called himself a soldier and then repeated a bunch of neo-con talking points that read as if they were lifted from a white paper. Come on. 🙂

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