Intellectual Conservative Logo

We are the only site on the web devoted exclusively to intellectual conservatism. We find the most intriguing information and bring it together on one page for you.


Home
Articles
Headlines
Links we recommend
Feedback
Link to us
Free email update
About us
What's New & Interesting
Mailing Lists
Intellectual Icons
Submissions

















 
Immigrant Warriors
by John Radzilowski
9 April 2003

As I watch the coverage of the war from Iraq, I wonder where our next Matt Urban will come from. Maybe they will come from a home where comfort food means tamales rather than pierogi. Maybe they will be Laotian or Vietnamese. Or maybe even Iraqi.



I thought about Matt Urban again yesterday. I’ve been thinking about America’s most decorated combat soldier a lot lately as the war to liberate Iraq continues. Yesterday, I saw a picture of a mother of one of the U.S. Marines killed in action near Nasiriyah, weeping. An immigrant from Mexico with only basic knowledge of English, her family had already given her new country more than most of the TV news anchors giving their opinions about the conduct of the war.

As in the last Gulf War and Vietnam, the critics like to point out how the poor, the blue-collar guys, and the immigrants and their children seemed to be over-represented in our armed forces. It is true.

Matt Urban was one of those. The son of Polish immigrants from Buffalo, Urban collected 7 Purple hearts, 2 Silver Stars, 3 Bronze Stars, and the Congressional Medal of Honor during his service in World War II. He had the singular gift of being able to galvanize his men into almost suicidal acts of courage. In one incident, the still-wounded Captain Urban checked himself out of a Normandy hospital and rejoined his unit, which was pinned down by strong German resistance and had just lost two of its field officers. A sergeant later said: "One of the craziest officers suddenly appeared before us, yelling like a madman and waving a gun in his hand. . . . He got us on our feet, though, gave us our confidence back and saved our lives." Urban climbed on top of a tank and firing its machine gun advanced on the enemy position. His men followed and routed the enemy. (See http://www.arlingtoncemetery.com/murban.htm)

During World War II, it was the Italians, the Jews, or the Poles who were over-represented on the battlefield and before them it was the Irish, the Germans, and the Scandinavians. And today?

It seems that when immigrants come here, they are not looking for minority set-asides and quotas (the positions of vocal and aggressive community leaders notwithstanding). They don’t seem to care about special programs or being "appreciated" for 15 minutes in some multicultural celebration day.

Instead, they want to become Marines. Or they want to join the Army, the Navy, or the Air Force. In the military they have as level playing field as one can get in life, one that rewards their courage and their initiative. They are not treated as being "special" or as victims in need of special help from rich, white liberals. Once they’ve served, they have adopted the hopes and dreams of this country as their own and have become Americans in a way that nothing can change or take away.

This is why the poor, the working class, and the immigrants are over-represented in our armed forces, not from "false consciousness" or from being oppressed. It is a conscious act of sacrifice for their future, for their families, and for something greater than themselves. To see them as victims in need of special programs insults and cheapens who they are what they are doing.

As I watch the coverage of the war from Iraq, I wonder where our next Matt Urban will come from. Who will be the next new American to lead his troops to victory against seemingly impossible odds? Who will brave a hail enemy fire to rescue a downed comrade?

Maybe they will come from a home where comfort food means tamales rather than pierogi. Maybe they will be Laotian or Vietnamese. Or maybe even Iraqi.

John Radzilowski, Ph.D., is a Minnesota-based writer and editor.

Email John Radzilowski

Send this article to a friend