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The Mass Media

Letter to a Solider Fighting for His Morals

To the reader: Staff Sergeant Mejia is a soldier with the Florida National Guard, who has served in the Army and National Guard for over eight years. He served in Iraq from March to October 2003. He returned to the U.S. for a two-week R&R in October, and decided he could not in good conscience return to the illegal and immoral war in Iraq. On March 15, Camilo Mejia reported back to the military at Hanscom Air Force Base in Massachusetts, and submitted to them a 40-page application for Conscientious Objector status. He has been at Ft. Stewart in Georgia since March 17th. On March 25 he was charged by the Army with desertion. He is currently confined to base at Ft. Stewart. Staff Sgt. Camilo Mejia, 28, of Miami, Florida was charged by his commanders at Ft. Stewart, Georgia with desertion on Wednesday, March 24, 2004. He will be tried by a Special Court Martial, which means that the maximum sentence he can receive is one-year imprisonment and a Bad Conduct Discharge.

Dear Camilo,

I hope this letter reaches you.

I am proud of what you have done and I support you 100%. When a man or woman signs along the dotted line and joins the military they are indeed signing a contract which may lead to their death and will most likely lead to them participating in combat. However when a person signs that contract there are many factors involved as to why they joined, which need to be taken into consideration. The need for money for a college education, health care benefits for one’s family, and the need for a stable job are some reasons why young people join the military, especially when the economy is poor. Sometimes perhaps that person is sucked into the advertising schemes, which propagate a false image of the military and war and are played over and over again on the television, especially during time slots in which the target audience is youth.

Nonetheless once the contract is signed one is legally obliged to follow it. What you have done as becoming a conscientious objector of the occupation is a wonderful and brave statement that you are still a man regardless of what the military would like you to believe and you still have morals, which were not signed away with the contract. You could have easily gone to Canada, as some other soldiers have, and lived a fairly free life, as Canada would not send a deserter back because they could face the death penalty, which Canada and most other nations are against. You decided however to stay here and face imprisonment and scrutiny and for this I hold you in high esteem.

Despite what people may be saying Camilo, you are not un-American for not wanting to murder and occupy a people. You are not un-American for keeping your morals and ethics while in the military. You are not un-American for voicing your opinion and standing up for what you believe is right. And Camilo, if I am wrong…If it is un-American to refuse to occupy and destroy a people’s country in the name of profit then Camilo, I would never want to be called an American and I would use the term in insult only.

Stay strong Camilo. As the world watches the destruction of a nation and its people at the orders of war profiteers, just know that you are in the right. If there is anything else I can do Camilo please let me know. I will submit this for printing under an editorial and any letter that you send back I would be happy to do the same so that your voice can be heard.

An injury to one is an injury to all.

Anthony J. Naro