Friday, May 25, 2007

An Open Letter to Wilton Sekzer

I just finished watching Why We Fight and was touched by the story threaded throughout the documentary of a retired NYC police officer named Wilton Sekzer. (Spoiler warning--this reallly is a great movie to watch, and if you're interested you might want to do so before reading). To catch up those who haven't seen the film, he lost his son in the 9/11 attacks and after hearing that Saddam Hussein was connected to them asked to have his son's name placed on some sort of a munition used in the Iraq war. Hopefully you'll glean the rest (especially the important parts) from my letter.
Dear Mr. Sekzer--

I'm so sorry for the loss of your son. I can't imagine what that's like. I've lost family members but never to a violent attack, and never my own children. Parents aren't supposed to outlive their kids. I remember having the same response as you when I saw the news coverage--wondering why they kept showing the buildings falling down over and over again and wishing that they'd just stop out of respect for the dead, the dying, and for thier families and loved ones.

I think I can understand your desire to have some sort of revenge--in part because I don't think it was purely a desire for revenge. It was a desire to make some sort of a tribute to him and to his loss. At the time you asked for his name to be placed on a weapon you thought it was a meaningful tribute, that it was a way for him to strike back at his attackers.

When the Iraq war first started I took the administration at face value too. I knew there wasn't a connection with Al-Queda they hate each other. But I beleived them when they said Saddam Hussein was a threat to us, and that he had weapons of mass destruction. I believed (and still believe) he was a tyrrant to his own people, and beleived Cheaney when he said the Iraqi people would welcome us with open arms.

You didn't make a bad call. Like you say in the movie, you acted on what you were told. I think the thing that chills me to the core is part of the email chain you read during the movie. It came from someone at a Marine Air Division in response to your request and read "Can Do, Semper Fi." My brother has been in the Corps for 20 years now, and served in Desert Storm and the Iraq War (several times). He is always faithful, the marine from your email is always faithful and so are all the men and women in our armed forces (even if they don't use the same motto). They have to be. Our democracy has to stop at the recruiting station or else the military will never be able to act. They have to follow orders that from their perspective appear to be legal or else the whole thing will collapse. If those stealth bomber pilots who dropped the opening salvo questioned every target, or even a single target then they wouldn't be able to function. The problem can come with who they have to be faithful to.

Your choice doesn't tarnish the name of your son, or reflect badly on you. I respect that you're a man of action--that when the news coverage was so devastating to you, that you called up the network and asked them to stop showing the buildings collapsing. I respect that you wanted to memorialize your son. Our military men and women aren't tarnished either. They made commitments and they're honoring those commitments. What is tarnished is our president and his administration.

Thank you for talking so openly about something so hard, for sharing your loss with us, and for your justifiable outrage.


Some highlights from the film:
  • A 2,000 pound smart bomb with "In loving memory of Jason Sekzer" written on it was dropped on April 1, just a couple of weeks into the War.
  • Of the 50 smart bombs dropped in the opening weeks of the war, all in an effort to hit leadership targets--none of them achieved their goals.
  • Civilian causualities during the opening weeks were about 90%. The smart bombs are not so smart.
The film discusses Iraq only as a talking point, it's actually about things that are far more disturbing than that--the relationship between military contractors and our government and this crosses political lines. The fact that our current president is a Republican is completely arbitrary. Democrats are just as invested in the war machine.


Douglas W Goodall said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Douglas W Goodall said...

I also was touched by his story and his open admission of his feelings. It was very valuable for me to hear his story and I wish I could tell him personally how impressed I am with him. He shared a lot of very painful stuff. God Bless You Wilton.

Anonymous said...

Wilton Sekzer is a great American. He served his country in Vietnam, and then as a police officer. We need more Americans like him. I would like to encourage him to run for Congress. I only wish I lived in NY where I could vote for him. We need people like Wilton in Congress where they can make a difference. Also, I would like to convey my condolences to him

Byam said...

Wilton - It is good your son has a St. named after him. I watched Why We Fight. Wilton, you can look at for a free DVD and booklet about it. Also an excellent bio. called Peace is Possible by Andrea Cagan. It is at The Mighty River Press. It has 400 pgs. and 90 pictures about The Life and Message of Prem Rawat. He talks about why we fight. Thank you. Byam Denver,Co.

Anonymous said...

Andy, your letter to Mr. Sekzer is wonderfully written. Mr. Sekzer, I wholeheartedly agree with every word.

Anonymous said...

I just watched this movie today (Feb 2013) and everything the movie depicted back in 2005 as America being has been totally proven when viewed in light of how it behaves today

Wilton represents the thinking of that whole generation, were ideals were believed and followed. When people acted out of conscience and concern for their country and their fellow man and where people did not question authority because those in authority were honorable and could be trusted. Wilton is only guilty of following what he had been taught since birth

Corporations have no soul and they are driving the policies and dictates of the modern world, bringing it's inhabitants into slavery and servitude. These corporations have turned the hearts of decent people into soulless beasts who rape, pillage and plunder the world for their own gain

Wilton made a decision on trust, trust that he now has discovered to be false - but instead of digging in on his decision and refusing to budge, he has dug deep into his beliefs and has chosen to allow his character to speak instead - a character where right is still respected, where honesty and integrity must stand above personal disappointment and heart wrenching tragedy must take a back seat to the truth - what an awesome character Wilton is!

Wilton has openly admitted the cause he backed was not a just one, this has caused the wound of his sons loss to resurface as unresolved - only a man of total character could ever do this - most would buckle under the weight of the tragedy and push out facts just to have their soul rest from the horror of loosing a precious son - no so Wilton, instead he has stood tall and has chosen to accept the awful truth that he was conned and that his patriotism was trampled on by swine using it for their own means

If only people like Wilton could take the reigns, you would see the American nation return to what it once was, before it became corrupted and the world and it's inhabitants would flourish

The unspoken tragedy is that Wilsons son is not here to take over from his father, it's a tragedy because I'm betting Wilson imparted in his son the decent and good character virtues that we see in Wilson shown in the documentary