War in Ukraine awakens Gold Star Father’s love of freedom
The horrors of Sept. 11, 2001, inspired my son, Private Heath Warner, to fight for freedom.
“I am going to fight them over there, so you do not have to fight them here,” he said.
Heath paid the ultimate sacrifice, as he was killed in action on Nov. 22, 2006, in Iraq.
At the time, I believed what I was told; that there were weapons of mass destruction. It was a bitter pill to swallow as the years went by and there were none. Many Gold Star Families have had to search our hearts with how to live sending our loved ones off to war only to realize we were lied to by our president. In my heart, I developed resentment, as I believed there was little to show for the enduring wars we faced as a country.
But my love of freedom — something I thought I had lost — recently has been awakened by the war in Ukraine. Unlike what I observed in Iraq and Afghanistan, I am watching common everyday people who love freedom and their country so much that they have formed a resistance that I believe will ultimately defeat the powers of Putin. They are true patriots willing to put their lives on the line for what they hold dear, which is the same as we do here, our love of God (of our understanding), our families and our country. What I learned through my son’s life is freedom is not free. It requires the blood, sweat and tears of the ones we love. The people of Ukraine are living this in view of the worldwide community.
I have to ask whether there is more we can do to help the people of Ukraine before it is too late for their country. I grew up during the Cold War. I was never more inspired than by President Ronald Reagan with his policy of peace through strength, not peace through fear. Why should we take military options such as a no-fly zone off the table? Talking about what we will not do sounds like fear, which signals weakness to Putin. We are already at war with Russia by proxy. We are supplying weapons to Ukraine, in addition to providing training, intelligence and necessary supplies for everyday life, in addition to imposing sanctions. We are kidding ourselves if we think Putin does not view all these as acts of war. How can we judge China for doing the same for Russia? Are they not fighting by proxy with Russia? Why else would President Biden say there would be severe consequences for China if they support Russia?
The war in Ukraine is different from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. This country did nothing to deserve this. They were living their lives peacefully. What we are observing as a world community is the atrocities of the worst kind, the shedding of blood of innocent people and the destruction of a civilization. Each day that passes is another day we could have done more. Recently, I listened to President Zelensky address the United States Congress, asking us if a no-fly zone is too much to ask for. As the father who has given a son for freedom, I know war is the last option we should pursue. War is beyond terror — it is a horror that only people who have suffered from the shocking, ghastly consequences of war really understand. I believe President Zelensky was spot on that this is not a war only with Ukraine. It is a war against the entire Western world and all those who believe in freedom.
Dear fellow Americans, I encourage you to not live by fear, but to live by faith. Faith in doing the right thing; of doing of whatever it takes to stop the atrocities of Putin against innocent people. We are currently living from the lens of pre-World War II. We could have done more then, and we eventually still ended up warring with the dictators of the time. When we live by faith, we will lead by strength. May we all keep the people of Ukraine in our prayers; help provide donations to help them survive everyday life; and provide the appropriate military support that signals we are Americans, we are fearless and we are strong, May we be bold and courageous like the people of Ukraine, doing whatever it takes to fight for freedom.
Dr. Scott N. Warner is an assistant management professor for Northwood University and Gold Star Father whose son, Private Heath Warner, was killed in action on Nov. 22, 2006, in Al Anbar Province, Iraq.