In both wars, we were told our actions would hurt us in the eyes of the world. And so they did. Unfortunate. But we ended up as the exceptional nation, Number One, more influential than any nation in history, the City on a Hill, hearing anti-American language which boiled down to “Yankee go home and take me with you.”
And so do these two old veterans:
In single file, troops walked up the ditch where we stood watching. All were wearing their armored vests with the ceramic plates, Kevlar helmets, and web gear bulging with ammo and a few canteens. Many had Camelback water sacks on their backs, with rubber tube dangling under the chin strap. About half were carrying small rucksacks with more ammo. Some still had on their rubber overboots; others had taken them off and shoved them in the rucksacks. All looked worn. For Ray and me both, we knew from slogging through the paddies in Vietnam how tired these Marines were this late in the fight. The gear they were carrying wasn't that much different than what we had carried and as they trudged by us along the side of the highway they seemed to both of us to be the same Marines we had known thirty-five or forty years earlier--we both felt like we could call out a name from our past, and someone there, in that column, would answer. Ray was encouraging them, slapping them on the shoulders as they passed by, and when I looked at him I could see tears streaming down his face.
-- Bing West and Ray L. Smith, The March Up: Taking Baghdad with the 1st Marine Division, 2003