Founder, Dan Barkhuff, shares his insights on the Russian invasion of Ukraine, based on his experience in Fallujah, and connects us back to our founding principles, strengthening our resolve in defense of democracy.
On November 9th, 2004, I was three days into leading a small SEAL sniper team in the Battle of Fallujah. We spent those days, outside the city, calling in airstrikes on insurgent positions from the comfort of an Iraqi landfill. We barely slept, and the offensive hadn’t even started yet. On the night of the assault, we picked our way through a minefield into the first row of houses in the city after a furious bombardment alongside my personal heroes, a Marine Rifle company out of Camp Lejeune. We fought our way forward all night, house by house, covering the Marines from rooftops as they cleared and assaulted forward.
As the sun came up that next morning, we were on a rooftop, and I peered over the edge. We were a block into the city, with dozens of blocks more to go. We were dirty, tired, and hungry. I looked behind us and the relative safety from which we had come seemed so close. Only a block backwards and we were out of the city. Perhaps we could reinsert at another spot, perhaps we could go resupply, perhaps we could…my hopeful thoughts rotated in my mind.
That, of course, was simple fantasy in a sleep-deprived mind. There was no going back. There was only one way out of that city, and it was to march through it, in its entirety, en route to victory. We were committed. There was no refuge in fatigue, injury, or cowardice. We had to do what needed to be done.
In the battle for American democracy we are now [similarly] committed.
There is no going back — no matter how exhausting 4 years of Trump was, or 2 years of COVID, or a year of dangerous lies and misinformation about the election. Honor, and the people we love, have left us with only one way out of this fight: to march forward to victory. It will take effort. It will take risks. It will take all of us working together and independently. There is no refuge in cowardice.
We cannot put the packs down until the democracy we grew up in is saved and handed over, bruised but not beaten, to the next generation.