April 10, 2006

By Ben Stein

Published 4/5/2006 2:29:42 AM Tuesday

Dear Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines, National Guard, Reservists, inIraq, in the Middle East theater, in Afghanistan, in the area nearAfghanistan, in any base anywhere in the world, and your families:

Let me tell you about why you guys own about 90 percent of the cojonesin the whole world right now and should be damned happy with yourselvesand damned proud of who you are. It was a dazzlingly hot day here inRancho Mirage today. I did small errands like going to the bank to paymy mortgage, finding a new bed at a price I can afford, practicingdriving with my new 5 wood, paying bills for about two hours.

I spoke for a long time to a woman who is going through a nasty childcustody fight. I got e-mails from a woman who was fired today from herjob for not paying attention. I read about multi-billion-dollar mergersin Europe, Asia, and the Mideast. I noticed how overweight I am, for themillionth time.

In other words, I did a lot of nothing. Like every other American who isnot in the armed forces family, I basically just rearranged the deckchairs on the Titanic in my trivial, self-important, meaningless way.

Above all, I talked to a friend of more than forty-three years who toldme he thought his life had no meaning because all he did was count hismoney.

And, friends in the armed forces, this is the story of all of Americatoday. We are doing nothing but treading water while you guys carry onthe life or death struggle against worldwide militant Islamic terrorism.Our lives are about nothing: paying bills, going to humdrum jobs,waiting until we can go to sleep and then do it all again. Our mostvivid issues are trivia compared with what you do every day, everyminute, every second.

Oprah Winfrey talks a lot about "meaning" in life. For her, "meaning" isdieting and then having her photo on the cover of her magazine everysingle month (surely a new world record for egomania ).This is not"meaning."Meaning is doing for others. Meaning is risking your life for others.Meaning is putting your bodies and families' peace of mind on the lineto defeat some of the most evil, sick killers the world has ever known.Meaning is leaving the comfort of home to fight to make sure that therestill will be a home for your family and for your nation and for freemen and women everywhere.

Look, soldiers and Marines and sailors and airmen and Coast Guardsmen,there are eight billion people in this world. The whole fate of thisworld turns on what you people, 1.4 million, more or less, do every day.The fate of mankind depends on what about 2/100 of one percent of thepeople in this world do every day -- and you are those people. Andjoining you is every policeman, fireman, and EMT in the country, alsoholding back the tide of chaos.

Do you know how important you are? Do you know how indispensable youare? Do you know how humbly grateful any of us who has a head on hisshoulders is to you?

Do you know that if you never do another thingin your lives, you will always still be heroes? That we could livewithout Hollywood or Wall Street or the NFL, but we cannot live for aweek without you?

We are on our knees to you and we bless and pray for you every moment.And Oprah Winfrey, if she were a size two, would not have one millionthof your importance, and all of the Wall Street billionaires will nevermean what the least of you do, and if Barry Bonds hit ninety home runsit would not mean as much as you going on one patrol or driving onetruck to the Baghdad airport.

You are everything to us, as we go through our little days, and you arein the prayers of the nation and of every decent man and woman on theplanet.That's who you are and what you mean. I hope you know that.

Love, Ben Stein

Ben Stein is a writer, actor, economist, and lawyer living in BeverlyHills and Malibu. He also writes "Ben Stein's Diary" in every issue ofThe American Spectator. You can now subscribe to Ben Stein's Diary forjust $1.95 per month. Click here to subscribe. And to subscribe to thefull magazine, click here.

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