My take on American soldiers to Uganda
October 26, 2011
I am the daughter of a US Navy veteran from the Vietnam war. I was an Air Force wife for more than a decade. My children are still Air Force dependents. My “oldest child” is an active-duty Air Force pilot. A close friend is currently serving in Iraq. I have countless friends in the military world. But I will admit that I hadn’t paid much attention to the President sending our troops to Uganda to go up against Joseph Kony. That was until last night.
My daughter invited me to an open event at her school for a group called Eyes Wide Open. They were hosting the group Invisible Children. Before I go into all the details I must say how proud I am of my daughter, the other kids attending (with or without their parents) and their school for creating an environment that gives this generation a view of the world that is bigger than themselves.
The group Invisible Children is named for the children of Uganda (and surrounding areas) that are forced into becoming soldiers of the Lord’s Resistance Army, the LRA. Let me give you a mental picture that you won’t be able to ignore.
Going back to my kids. Here in my office at home I have two of my favorite school projects hanging on the wall. These were done when each one was in 4th grade, at about 9 years old. It’s titled “Take Note of ME!” and it’s a sheet of paper that was passed around the class for each student to write something special or unique about each other. Some of the quotes…
”Drew is good at geogrify”
”You are good with legos”
”You are good at twister”
”Your a tomboy”
Sounds like a pretty fun time of their lives. They are practically (or totally) grown, these kind of memories make me smile and glad that I kept things like this.
Now move that 9 year old to Uganda. You can’t sleep at home in your own bed, you sleep on a crowded floor full of other children in a protected area to keep you from being abducted to fight in the LRA. You are a lucky one, you have not been abducted and forced to fight for Kony’s army, 90% of whom are children. Yes, 90% of the “soldiers” in the LRA are children stolen from their families and forced to kill or be killed. The girls don’t get special treatment, they are forced into marriages with the adult members of the LRA and become their sex slaves at this very young age as well. Siblings are abducted together and used against one another. They are made to do awful things in order to save one another from being killed in front of each other. And even then children are killed daily in front of each other as a form of brainwashing/control so these children stay and fight this awful man’s fight. People are mutilated for speaking out against the atrocities, their mouths, noses, limbs cutoff. Their faces burned with acid. Entire villages are massacred.
What exactly is the LRA fighting for? From a fact sheet on the conflict “The LRA are widely considered a murderous cult with "no clear agenda"
You read that correctly.
I met one of the child soldiers last night. He escaped at the age of 17 after spending 8 years as a soldier. His courage is nothing short of inspirational.
So now, how do you feel about our American troops helping? I hope and pray for the safety of our troops but honestly can’t help but feel that 100 will simply be targets and unable to help save these children.
So here’s your action item. It doesn’t have to be money you give (though I’m sure Invisible Children would be pleased with that) what I am asking of you, actually demanding of you, is you give your outrage a public venue. Tell someone, anyone that this rebel army is not the enemy, they are children. Tell them the 10% of the army that are adults are the enemy. Talk over dinner with your kids. Speak to your lawmakers. Facebook it. Tweet it. Blog it. You have a big voice, use it.
Oh and by the way Time Magazine, your little blurb of 65 words was simply embarrassing, you didn’t even mention the child soldiers. Shame on you.