Attack on childhood
Dear Editor: In 1979 I turned 10, but more important than that, it was also the year my childhood ended. America had been through many cultural challenges but 1979 was a pivotal moment that changed the world.
There appeared an image on television that year of a U.S. Marine beaten, bloody, and blindfolded being led from our embassy in Tehran.
I knew I would never forget that image. I wondered why that Marine didn’t fight to the death, surely Sgt. Stryker would have.
I kept asking the grownups around me: “What did we do to them?” “How could they do this to us?” “What were we going to do about them?” America had not gone to war with Iran, so attacking our embassy and taking Americans hostage was a clear act of war...or so I thought. They could NOT be allowed to get away with this. Drop in the 82nd Airborne and the 101st Air Assault; send in a division of Marines, overwhelm them with superior numbers and weapons, they were after all ONLY students.
But that was not President Carter’s response, and so we lost the initiative, the window where we could have won the day. Instead we waited and tried diplomacy that was directed toward thugs and bullies. When we DID act, our “rescue” failed... making us look not only weak but also impotent and idiotic, I mean who knew we couldn’t fly planes and helicopters in a sand storm?
After 444 days, the terrorists did release the American hostages, but on Their terms, so they could embarrass President Carter. In the minds of the terrorists, they had defeated the United States, whom they came to refer to as the “Great Satan.”
I didn’t understand why they hated us, why they hated me.
It was years later when I learned about the ancient conflict between Isaac and Ishmael that began the Arab-Jewish conflict. I also learned about the plight of the Palestinian people, a people that no brother Arab country wanted to take in for any long period of time.
So the Arabs picked up an offense for something that wasn’t done to them and chose to hate and punish a country that had done no offense against them.
It was also in 1979 that I learned my very first Arabic word: The word was “Jihad.” Brian Parsons