Our previous Associated Press story reports also that Marine Cpl. Joshua Bernard, son of a Marine, was "a devout Christian, Iraq war veteran [at 21!] and avid hiker, home-schooled [so make that fringe-fundamentalist "devout Christian"] in rural Maine." In other words, he couldn't have been a more perfect recruit for Bush's holy wars in the Middle East. The ex-President's notion of his divine appointment for the job has been quoted often enough--"God led me to invade Iraq"--by me and others, but lately it's come to light that his religious zeal assumed biblical, apocalyptic proportions, fantasy-wise. He seriously believed that the giants Gog and Magog of Old Testament prophecy were at work in the region, and must be defeated before they destroy Israel--or so he told French Pres. Jacques Chirac in 2003:
This confrontation is willed by God, who wants to use this conflict to ERASE [!] His people's enemies before a New Age comes. [Alternet 5/25]
I'm sure our bereft mothers and widows will be glad to know that their loved-ones died in Iraq not for the old saws of "freedom" and "our country," but for this decidedly higher purpose--fighting the forces of Gog and Magog. True Christian martyrdom. Was the dead Cpl. Bernard rewarded with the presence his own after-life Holy Virgin? Well, surely not in the Koranic sense.
However that may be, I have no doubt that the Bernards, pere et fils, had no doubt either, being hard-core Christians, that the Middle East War in whatever incarnation was a holy one. This would have been reinforced by the almost-exclusively evangelical chaplains "serving" our troops at home and abroad. (This is thankfully a current "scandal," by the way.) Bernie would have been led to believe, I'm sure, that a brave death on the battlefield would bring its rewards in the afterlife. Wouldn't the Marine point-man console himself, as he took his last breaths in the M.A.S.H. unit they took him to, with those reassuring thoughts? Yes ... and so would the last dying Muslim he shot down.
In the family interview after the fact, Bernie's mother explains that her son showed a remarkable early interest in the Bible and Christianity. (Surprise: he was home-schooled.) "He had a very strong faith right from the beginning," she says. His father, the former Marine, describes him as a shy and unassuming boy, who "didn't smoke or drink, and always opened the door for others." Shortly before the "pomegranate attack"--as if all this isn't ironic enough--his father had written a letter which truly captures this family's Christian principles:
Bernard's father is a retired Marine 1st sergeant. Three weeks before the Aug. 14 ambush that killed his son, he had written to his congressman, Rep. Michael Michaud, expressing frustration at what he described as a change in the Afghanistan rules of engagement to one of "spare the civilians at any cost." He called this "disgraceful, immoral, and fatal" to U.S. forces in combat. [AP 9/4]
Alas, too late for Bernie, and his father's protestations. If we'd just been able to murder more civilians, his son might have been saved.