The worst part is that almost no other American knows about this. The volunteer drive by the American Legion and Tankerbabe to get those guys clothes and laptops and stuff was simply amazing. However, it only represents a handful of dedicated countrymen.
I sit in algebra with 40 other people. When we are given time to work on homework in class, I sit with the two Saudi guys in the class. We speak Arabic together. I feel more in common with these brown, bearded men then I do my own kinsmen. When the TA asks if we've seen such and such equation before, they shout out "Yes, in middle school!" The majority of the class has no idea what is going on. The Saudis tell me they loved our presence along their border and they were so happy to see us protect them in the first Gulf War. Everyone else in the class leers at us. I wonder how many of them could find Saudi Arabia on the map, or Iraq, or Afghanistan, or Nuristan province. Where is Kabul? Kandahar? Bagram? Mazari Sharif? How many of them can find America on a map of the world? I remember 12th grade geography where some people couldn't find our state on a map of America. Some couldn't find America on a map of America. You don't know where the fuck you are on a map, congratulations. Good luck in college, you've made it. The TA goes over an example problem. Four or five kids don't understand how she got 36 from 4 times 9. The Saudi guys laugh out loud. I hang my head.
I wanted to go on a great adventure, to prove myself, to serve my country. I wanted to do something so hard that no one could ever talk shit to me. In Athens or Sparta, my decision would have been easy. I felt as if I had been born too late. There was no longer a place in the world for a young man who wanted to wear armor and slay dragons.
-Nate Fick: 2 PLT CO, Company Bravo, 1st Marine RECON, OIF I (2003)