Did you know that we have been officially involved in fighting terror since 1801? King Solomon so wisely said, “Ain’t nuthin’ new under the sun,” (well, that may be the Casual Revised Version of the fella’s philosophy), but except for very brief seasons of respite, we as Americans, and more specifically, our troops have always been involved in fighting terror. And further, if we are going to keep from completely crumbling as a culture, and being annihilated as a nation, fighting terror is something we must be willing to fight on principal in order to be free.
When we were an infant nation, President Thomas Jefferson got himself a copy of the Koran to see what he was up against in Tripoli, and then committed ½ of our top of the line ships, (and that would mean a whopping total of three naval vessels from our flotilla) to blockade the harbor of Tripoli. Why? Because 200 years ago, there were those jihadists who felt their “God-given purpose” was to destroy freedom, and we were then, as now, in their crosshairs.
Here is a newsflash, or for some of you, a revelation: The whole concept of freedom straight up freaks terrorists out, no matter their philosophical or religious beliefs. Terror by its very nature is successful only when it controls, and freedom and control are diametrically are opposed to each other.
Soldiers know this, and this week it has been announced that they are going back to Iraq. Now, I could spend several versions of Soldier breaking down the mistakes we made in Iraq, but in a very real way, it really doesn’t matter what kinds of mistakes we made. The truth is, terror never rests, and neither can we. And, if they are going back, we need to “go back” with them, and back them with all we have.
I don’t know how many of our Joes and Janes are going back to the Great Sandbox, and for now we are told we are fighting ISIS in Iraq on an “advise and consent” basis. However, sometimes knowing where you have been can serve to be a roadmap for where you are going, and I believe we as a nation, and our troops specifically, have been given a wonderful gift in the form of a new book. It’s called, “Thomas Jefferson And The Tripoli Pirates: The Forgotten War That Changed American History,” written by Brian Kilmeade and Don Yaeger.
What happened in Tripoli, and its effect on the American story, is no longer taught in schools. However, Kilmeade and Yaeger have done us a great service by digging into the facts of the fight, the bravery shown by our Marines against the Barbary pirates, and how we can apply it to our current distress.
There were Marines, led across the African desert to the port of Derna by a man by the name of William Eaton, and they took it, hoisting the American flag for the first time on foreign soil. There was the necessary destruction of the USS Philadelphia after it had run aground in the Tripoli harbor. He then escaped under a hail of gunfire. There are many more tales of bravery and courage to feed our souls. Most importantly, we are being blessed to the story of a President who did not shrink back from bullies, and learning about what Jefferson faced is a tale we can use in these times to shore ourselves up.
By: Ali Elizabeth Turner