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Many National Guard personnel who served on the frontlines in Afghanistan and Iraq had enlisted for economic or educational reasons well in advance of the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. The idea of training one weekend a month plus two weeks in the summer while remaining in their jobs, with their families, and in their communities was particularly attractive. For many, a “Global War on Terror” lacked personal resonance, even though they were quite prepared to serve when called upon. Some, initially skeptical about U.S. involvement, particularly in Iraq, became more persuaded over time; others grew more skeptical. While the tradition of keeping military service divorced from politics continues largely intact, some of these veterans articulate strong views about the conflicts. Members of the National Guard, exercising their role as citizen-soldiers, were particularly outspoken.
When Michael Daake enlisted in the Army at the age of 17 in 1988, he had in mind the service’s promise of aid for a college education. But he found opportunities within the Army and stayed, going to Officers Candidate School. He began serving in a National Guard unit in 1997 and they were deployed to Iraq in the third phase of Operation Iraqi Freedom. As a liaison stationed in Mosul, he worked 15-hour days, with no time off between December 2004 and August 2005. Since returning from duty, he has taken pride in training other National Guard personnel, but he is also dismayed that the American public is not focused on the war and supporting the troops.
“There’s nothing more upsetting than to be a soldier and know what’s going on over there and read the negative comments about what’s going on over there.”
– Michael Brian Daake
“Winning the hearts and minds of the Iraqi people is one of the main things of this war.”
“People that remember ... Brian in all this are the other veterans.”
“I think that selflessness ... is a missing element of our maturation in our society.”