Friday, January 21, 2005

A real patriot sends a silent message

Ellis Henican
A real patriot sends a silent message
January 21, 2005
It's always the men who've never fought one who call the loudest for war. It's the quiet dissent that tends to come from men who have.
Men like Alex Ryabov.
Alex is 22 years old. He was born in Ukraine and moved as a child to Ocean Parkway in Brooklyn. When he was old enough, he was proud to join the Marines. Without complaint, he went off to fight in Operation Iraqi Freedom, the hopeful name the Bush administration gave to the early part of the war. This gung-ho corporal was ammo chief for R-battery, 5th Battalion, 10th Regiment, a legendarily tough artillery unit that brought giant howitzers into war. R-battery seemed to be everywhere when U.S. troops rolled across Iraq.
"We moved in from the Kuwait-Iraq border," Alex was recalling yesterday. "Fired into Nasiriyah. Fired into Baghdad. We kept on firing all the way to Tikrit."
The war comes alive when he talks. But as Alex spoke yesterday, he was about as far as you could get from those battered Iraqi cities and the people on both sides who died there. He was standing at Constitution Avenue and Third Street in the heart of downtown Washington, waiting for his former commander-in-chief to roll by.
Four blocks away at the Capitol, George W. Bush had delivered an especially pugnacious inaugural address. It was wrapped in the sentimental language of modern politics. But the meaning was infinitely clear, as far-reaching and as bellicose as any inaugural ever. Bush sketched out his second-term vision for America, a nation with an almost moral duty to topple whatever governments don't meet our definition of free.