Who should be protecting this country?

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, January 14, 2004

Chief Warrant Officer Philip A. Johnson, Jr., 31, of Alabama was killed when his UH-60 Blackhawk helicopter was shot down and crashed January 8, 2004 near Fallujah, Iraq. Johnson was assigned to the 571st Medical Company (Air Ambulance) Fort Carson, Colo.

Also aboard that helicopter was Aaron Weaver, a Citrus, Fla., High School graduate who survived testicular cancer and a botched abdominal surgery in 2003 to make sure his cancer had not spread, resulting in months in a Fort Bragg, N.C. hospital. Before that he was awarded the Bronze Star with valor for being in a bloody battle in Somalia on October 3, 1993 memorialized in the book and movie Blackhawk Down.

Weaver, himself a Kiowa helicopter pilot, needed bi-monthly blood tests for his cancer screening. He was being flown to one of those checkups at the U.S. base at Baghdad International Airport on January 8, 2004, when the Blackhawk helicopter he was on – with Philip A. Johnson, Jr. – was shot down. Weaver was killed.

Aaron Weaver's brother Ryan also in Iraq, was to see Aaron the next day. Aaron is survived by his wife Nancy, a daughter Savannah age one, a stepson Austin age ten and five sisters one of whom is on active duty in the U.S. Air Force.

This raises a fundamental question. Whose duty is it to defend America in this war, and it is a war. Is it the duty of the Johnson and Weaver families, or is it the duty of every family in America? How many sons and daughters of members of Congress are on active duty? Answer: less than five percent!

Why is the phrase "the draft" such a no-no? Is there something taboo about a young man or woman having to defend their own family? Remember, the family you save may be your own!

I was one year and three months old when Pearl Harbor was attacked and that was outside the continental United States.Sept. 11, 2001 was the first time in my life when the United States of America has been attacked within the continental United States. That should stir the blood of every American, yet for millions of American families the thought of having one of their members serve on active duty and go in harm's way - well that is for somebody else to do. Why?

The Johnson and Weaver families are devastated right now. How many Americans really care about them

- care enough to erect a monument in their state, county or town to their memory and to the memory of their brothers and sisters who made the supreme sacrifice in all wars for all of us so that today we are speaking English and not German or Japanese.

The following I did not write nor take any credit for writing, but it says it all: "It is better to have lived one day as a lion than 1,000 days as a sheep."