He Died Fighting Cruel Oppression
The body of 25-year-old Staff Sgt. Justin Cameron Marquez came home Sunday.
His mother, father, brother and girlfriend took their long last looks. That night, more family, friends and others saw his remains laid out for viewing at Boles Funeral Home. At his funeral service and burial the next day, a huge crowd was full of young people — some his age, many younger.
A general from Fort Bragg’s Special Forces school offered the thanks of a grateful nation after other Green Berets had slowly lifted the Stars and Stripes off the casket lid to fold it crisply into the familiar triangle of loss and pride.
Reminder of Why They Fought
On the one hand, it seems senseless for one so young and full of life to die — as so many have — in a land so far away. But consider this: At about the same time Sgt. Marquez was being brought home, a 14-year-old girl in critical condition was being flown from her home country of Pakistan for treatment by specialists in England. Taliban terrorists had shot her — her only “offense” being that she wanted to learn, wanted a school to go to, hoped someday to be a doctor.
This served as a grim reminder that a fanatical doctrine has spread across the surface of the Earth, seemingly proclaiming civilization itself as its foe, threatening with death any who mock its lunacy, and carrying out its threats in marketplaces, hotels and embassies. Power-thirsty men endorse and exploit that deadly religious madness, use it for their purposes. Trapped in it themselves, they strive to trap others.
This is the enemy Sgt. Marquez and his comrade-in-arms, Warrant Officer Joseph L. Schiro, 27, of Coral Springs, Fla., were fighting in the Chak district of Wardak Province, Afghanistan, when they were shot and killed.
Defenders of Freedom
Consider another seemingly unrelated event: Near the United Nations headquarters in New York, a monument is about to be unveiled, honoring President Franklin Delano Roosevelt and the Four Freedoms he espoused: freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom from want, and freedom from fear.
In Pakistan, the widespread horror at what was done to that teenage girl is also blended with a mindless wrath in the minds of many of that nation’s youth against the United States — and any nation or culture that supports the kinds of freedom that FDR claimed for all humanity.
When Sgt. Marquez died, something was found in his pocket, folded neatly and tucked deep inside a wallet. It was the creed of a special U.S. military force that is avowedly dedicated to fight oppression. Its motto, “De oppresso liber,” is a mailed fist clenched in the face of oppression anywhere and cruel fanatics everywhere.
The Taliban and other sanctimonious bullies may seek to burn books and kill writers they don’t like, to smash every religion but their own, to bar every political party and wrap every woman in smothering bonds. And they could get away with it, except somebody will always be found willing to go in harm’s way — and even to die far from home — to stop their cruel march backward.
This time, it was a man from Aberdeen.
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