I heard some folks refer to these men as "boys" or "kids".
They were neither, they were men!
Kristian Menchaca and Thomas Tucker joined the Army for reasons known only to them, their families and friends. Those who join the military have their reasons for joining. The reasons include getting a good education, learning new skills, traveling and having new experiences, getting into a better life, and even doing something positive in the world and helping one's fellow man. I think each person who joins, especially those men who join the Army and Marines, who face the greatest risk of death due to ground combat, knows in the back of their mind that they might be called upon to fight for America's freedom or for the freedom of those in a foreign country. They know, and yet they continue to sign up in record numbers.
Kristian Menchaca's uncle Ken MacKenzie was quoted as saying that his nephew died because the United States had no plan in Iraq. Of course he is grief stricken, I'd be mad too if I were him. But the truth is that his son died because he was killed by terrorists. Whether or not we should have invaded Iraq will be debated for centuries long after we're all gone from this earth. But whether or not we should be there should not lessen the signifance of the contributions made by soldiers like PFC Menchaca and Tucker. Their presence there was important and no matter what your political views are on Bush, America or Iraq, you have to separate those views from the specific mission of those troops.
It is not fair to the memory of these soldiers to say things like "they died because we were in Iraq". It is not right to degrade their service to their country and to the freedom and liberation of the people of a foreign nation by politicizing their sacrifice. Kristian Menchaca and Thomas Tucker joined the Army voluntarily and when their President, Congress and their country called, they went, without hesitation, without complaint, because they knew it was their duty.
These were honorable men and the best way to honor their memory and the memory of all those who have died in wars before them, is to be a good citizen. Know your Constitution, be willing to defend and protect it whether by joining the military or as a civilian. Vote, march and protest, write letters, make phone calls, get involved, keep your government in check, and most of all, support freedom for all people, not just in America but around the world.
Support freedom for the oppressed, tortured and genocide-stricken tribes in remote, desolate parts of Africa.
Support freedom for young girls and women who are beaten, raped and murdered in the streets of Middle Eastern cities.
Support freedom for the millions of starving people who live in North Korea.
Support freedom for the people of Cuba, where an entire generation has lived under the thumb of a ruthless, murderous dictator for over forty years.
Support freedom for not just the countries which have wealth, but those which are poor.
The best way to honor these servicemen who die for the cause of freedom (and no matter what your view of Iraq, these soldiers are dying for the cause of freedom), is to continue to further that cause.
And one more thing, while you're getting angry over the situation in Iraq and while you debate the legitimacy of the invasion, while you pray for the families of the dead soldiers, while you show American flags in support of those who come home maimed for life, please do not forget Sgt. Keith Maupin, who was captured in Iraq some time ago and has never been found.