By Debbie Gregory.
In mid-April, forces from the Islamic State, also known as ISIS and ISIL, gained control over much of the city of Ramadi in Iraq. At the time General Martin Dempsey, Chairmen of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, commented that the fall of the city is “not symbolic in any way.”
But to some Americans, the city is very symbolic. For those who deployed to Iraq and fought there, and to those who lost loved ones there, the city of Ramadi is very symbolic.
Debbie Lee is the mother of Aviation Ordinanceman Second Class Petty Officer Marc Lee, a U.S. Navy SEAL who died on August 2, 2006 in Ramadi, Iraq. Mrs. Lee is a Gold Star Mother, one of the most highly respected designations in the military community. For the past several years, Debbie Lee has toured the country, spreading support for service members and their families. She also has her own blog on the website for America’sMightyWarriors.org, an organization that she started to support members of the military community.
In an April 17, 2015 blog entry entitled “Open Letter to Martin Dempsey”, Lee challenged the words of the nation’s highest ranking military officer. In it, the Gold Star Mother makes some heartfelt, compelling arguments, explaining how her son was the first SEAL to sacrifice his life in Iraq. She also pleaded the case of other service members who fought to gain control of the city in 2006.
“What about the troops who sacrificed their limbs and whose lives will never be the same. Our brave warriors who left a piece of themselves in Ramadi. What about the troops who struggle with PTS/TBI who watched their teammates breath their last or carried their wounded bodies to be medevac’d out of Ramadi,” Lee wrote.
General Dempsey responded to Lee in a personal note that was later published to NewsMax. In that note, the general apologized to the Gold Star Mother.
“I’ve read your letter, and I do apologize if I’ve added to your grief,” General Dempsey wrote. The note continued, “Marc and so many others died fighting to provide a better future for Iraq. He and those with whom he served did all that their nation asked. They won their fight, and nothing will ever diminish their accomplishments nor the honor in which we hold their service. We are in a different fight now, with a different enemy, and with a different relationship with the Government of Iraq. They must determine the path and pace of this fight. That’s what I intended to convey.”
General Dempsey followed his correspondence with a phone call to Lee. It has been reported that Lee felt the apology to be genuine. But she reportedly still disagrees with the general’s sentiment that the current conflict is against a different enemy than the one that her son died fighting against in 2006.
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Military Connection: Gold Star Mother’s Voice is Heard: By Debbie Gregory