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July 27, 2007

Bill Moyers on sacrifice and war.

BILL MOYERS: Listening to the last part of that conversation about the realities on the ground, two sets of images keep playing over and again in my mind.

LeRon Wilson was laid to rest here in New York City the other day, with full military honors. At the neighborhood Roman Catholic church in Queens he was eulogized for a life of dignity and integrity - willing to do whatever was necessary to be an instrument of peace.

LeRon Wilson grew up on the Caribbean island of Trinidad where his father is a military officer. With his mother he came to Queens when he was 11 and dreamed of serving in the U.S. Army. With parental consent, he enlisted at the age of 17, soon after graduating from high school.

Less than a month ago, on July 6, Private First Class LeRon Wilson, and another member of his platoon were killed when their military vehicle hit a roadside bomb south of Baghdad.

I was thinking of LeRon Wilson a few days later as I came upon this Internet video the independent journalist Max Blumenthal. He had gone to the College Republican Convention in Washington to interviewe some of the students there. Here are some excerpts:

JUSTIN YORK, UNIV. OF CENTRAL FLORIDA '10: We are all supportive of the war; we all believe that it is very important to win the war and to fight Al Qadea in Iraq so we are not fighting them here in the United States.

DAVID CLARY, UNIV. OF ILLINOIS '09: I like the Republican standpoint, fight them over there not over here. That's what we're doing right now and we should keep doing it.

RACHAEL DAVIS, UNIV. OF ARKANSAS '09: Um, basically, what I don't think people understand is that, if it's not fought in Iraq, we don't win over there, it's going to happen here.

CLINT PETERSON, UNIV. OF NORTH TEXAS, '08: I think frankly we went there because al Qaeda was already there, they may not have [had] the forces they have now but they were there and essentially if we leave there we give them a stronghold.

BLUMENTHAL: Why are you not fighting them over there?

DAVID CLARY, UNIV. OF ILLINOIS '09: Why am I not fighting them over there?


DAVID CLARY, UNIV. OF ILLINOIS '09: Because I'm in college right now.

BLUMENTHAL: Do you plan to enlist?

DAVID CLARY, UNIV. OF ILLINOIS '09: I haven't ruled it out.

BLUMENTHAL: Are you going to serve?

JUSTIN YORK, UNIV. OF CENTRAL FLORIDA '10: I've thought about it, thinking about it, haven't decided. BLUMENTHAL: Undecided? Why aren't you serving currently?

JUSTIN YORK, UNIV. OF CENTRAL FLORIDA '10: Well I'm an undergraduate right now and I had a scholarship...I just didn't have any real urge...I just didn't have any strong urge...

RALPH KETTELL, COLBY '09: Why am I not serving? I don't know...I mean... I really support this country strongly and know... I didn't enlist. There is not much else I can say. I don't think that you can't talk about this issue if you're not serving.

MAX BLUMENTHAL: You're in the ROTC. Are you planning to serve?

WILL LUSK, University of Central Florida '09: I unfortunately cannot because of medical reasons.

CLINT PETERSON, UNIVERSITY OR NORTH TEXAS '08: I actually tried. I have knee problems. They won't let me.

MAX BLUMENTHAL: You have knee problems?

WILL LUSK: Yeah. I was a catcher for years in baseball.

KENT ALEXANDER, UNIVERSITY OF SOUTHERN MISSISSIPPI '08: I'm more career oriented. I don't think it's for me. Cause I mean.

MAX BLUMENTHAL: Everyone has their rule.

KENT ALEXANDER, UNIVERSITY OF SOUTHERN MISSISSIPPI '08: I don't know if I could handle some of the training they have to go through, you know. Some of the intense stuff they have to do.

BILL MOYERS: Private First Class LaRon Wilson has been posthumously awarded the Bronze Star and Purple Heart. He was the 30th 18-year-old American soldier to be killed in Iraq. That's it for the JOURNAL. I'm Bill Moyers.

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