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Thursday, April 01, 2004


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Frank Johnson

good service

Kris, somewhere in New England

Matt: doesn't matter whether you are 17 or 57 - it's an incredibly articulate, sensitively written op ed piece. And I'm embarrassed to say, at nearly 41, that you expressed my own thoughts on the war in Iraq far better than I've been able to. I've been torn between the 2 "bottom lines" - get out and leave them to themselves or stay and help them understand the true power of freedom and democracy.

The only thing that really bothers me is this: we are still at war; why don't we let our troops act like it.

Thank you - for pointing out that Freedom Isn't Free - we tend to forget that and it's wonderful that someone not old enough to vote or fight reminded us.

Thank you - for your maturity, your thoughtfulness and your passion. The world needs more of that, from ALL of us.

And a final thank you to your family - for allowing you to become who you are, by giving you the opportunity to express yourself.

OK, off the "ole folks" soapbox now...


BloodSpite, thanks for the comments and the link; I intend to enjoy my youth as long as I can =)

Andrew, I see where you're coming from, especially with the generalizations. I've seen it happen countless times as well. I'm glad the editorial met your high expectations, and I'm encouraged that my attempts at keeping it nonpartisan seemed to have worked (provided I'm reading your comment correctly). With any editorial, individuals will comment saying they agree or disagree with the statements made. With mine, I'm happy to say that those commenting on it have done so separately on my writing abilities and the content of the work. If they disagreed with it, they have done so often by asking questions and providing their own opinions, and rather than boil into a shouting match, it has remained an intelligent discussion, something I appreciate quite a bit.

As for my comment about the Democratic Underground, you're correct. Like your earlier comment, it was more of a reaction to my mindset at the time, and certainly not a thought-out response.

You're all right as well, I suppose ;) Thanks for taking the time to clarify your comments civilly.

Andrew | BYTE BACK

You're all right. It was a quick comment from me made as a reaction more to thoughts running around in my head than anything else.

I was just amazed that if another 17-year-old had published an elegant, thoughtful, passionate tract about peace and his abhorence of this Iraqi war, how you - the comment-ators here and all who linked approvingly - would "all" be saying how the young "just don't get it."

A generalization, but an apt one because I've seen it happen many times - if you agree, "brilliant prose." If you don't, "nice effort, nice try but pity it's based in stupidity."

I have high expectations and expect coherent and thoughtful writing from a 17-year-old.

This was both - and was largely nonpartisan.

This wasn't - of course, I haven't posted it on something like the Democratic Underground, but still...)


Awesome post. Age be damned.

I always preffered the saying

"For those who fought for it, FREEDOM has a flavor the protected will never know"

Anyone who tries to knock you down for speeking your mind is hypocritical and narrow minded. In a day and age when most teenagers are worried about what to wear to the Prom, wether their pants are going to fall off or not, or wether they are cool enough to hang with the in-crowd, I salute and applaud you for seeing that their is a world larger than the high school stadium out there.

Don't let any one rob you of that, and don't be afraid to enjoy being a kid either.

Well written post. I'm linking it.


Thanks again for the responses. I'm still amazed at what a positive reaction this article has generated (of course, I haven't posted it on something like the Democratic Underground, but still...)

Bill, thanks. I agree, Friedman has arguably the most experience dealing with the Middle East, and it shows in his editorials. He may classify himself as a liberal, but he's also willing to listen to reason and see through the endless politicking when necessary--traits I admire quite a bit.

Alexandra, glad the editorial helped. I know how hard it can get to defend one's opinion after hearing the opposite side time and again.

Sexygmaaa, Thanks for the kind words. The next time you see your son, tell him "Thank you" for me. Best of luck to him if he decides to go back, as he is not the only one who believes in the cause.


Matt, I would be proud to have a Son like you.....my Son did go to Iraq. He turned 30 a few days after the Air War started. When he turned 31 a few weeks ago he said he barely knew it was his Birthday, he was to busy "Sucking Rubber". I Thank God daily he was home to Celebrate his 31st BD with his Wife and Kids. I am so proud of him that I cant even express it, and his wife and kids for staying here and praying for him and keeping their life going so to be ready for his return. He is active military, in 11 years so far. I was proud of him when enlisted, with the reservations of a Mother, and I am even more proud of him now!

When I was a teenager in the late 1960's, there was a song that was done by a group called "Up With People". In one of the songs we did, "Freedom Isn't Free", the lyrics in the chorus stated
"Freedom Isn't Free
Freedom Isn't Free
You Gotta Pay the Price
You Gotta Sacrafice
For your Liberty"
I now have a better understanding of that song. Matt you are an
Awsome kid and your Parents should be very Proud. Thank you for being YOU. He, my Son, wants to go back..............He belives in what they are doing, eventhough as his Mom, I would be Very Happy if he would just stay home but I know he is a Man now and not my little boy, and he will do what he thinks is right.
PS If my 16yr old Daughter decided to go the Military way I would be just as proud of her. But her Mom would be very worried.

Former Belgian

Great essay for a 17-year old.

The expression, in one variant or another, has been around for ages, stratching back to the Founding Fathers. For example: "Ever so often, the tree of liberty must be watered with the blood of patriots and tyrants" (Thomas Jefferson)

Your son wasn't even born when Rush had a song ("Something for nothing" on "2112") with the chorus:

"You can't have something for nothing
You don't get freedom for free
You won't get wise, with the sleep still in your eyes
No matter what your dreams might be..."

As for Daily Kos, it ought to be called Daily Koos ("Koos" being Arabic and Hebrew slang for the most intimate part of the female anatomy)... :-)

Wacky Hermit

Cut the kid some slack on the "originality" thing. There's scarcely a thought on earth that hasn't already been thought of by somebody else. And don't tell me all you snarky detractors of his idea haven't ever seen the same sentiment on any subject simultaneously published on several different blogs. How many *million* blogs are there??


Matt, I'm another 17 year old who also supported the war in Iraq and continues to believe that it was the right thing to do. You stated your position so eloquently. Thank you for crystallizing my view and the view of many others so well.
"Freedom is not free" is indeed on the Korean War Memorial.


Matt, that was wonderful.
Like father, like son!


Matt that was one of the best comments I have read on the subject. You show a great maturity that will only develop as you mature. I am glad you read Tom Friedman. He has an excellent background in the area and is level headed. Best to you and keep up the good work.


I believe that "Freedom Isn't Free" is inscribed on the Korean War Memorial, adjacent to the Mall in Washington D.C. I'm not positive; it's been a while since I've visited -- but I'm pretty sure.

Maybe that's were Tom Clancy got it. If so, good on him for introducing it into youth culture via a video game.


Thanks for the responses, all. Teresa, yes, I'm 17, although only for another month. I plan to continue writing when the notion strikes me.

Tony Lekas, my language may was likely slightly more intense than it could have been, as I wrote this after learning the details of exactly what happened. Thanks for the article; while I worried about the potential rammifications of inaction, it seems to have been the best strategy in this case, as the entire town is now realizing the magnitude of their acts by their own accord. We'll see how events play out.

Andrew, where to start? The immediate assumption that, if a teenager has a point, he must have stolen it from another source, or the dismissal and apparent ignorance of the entire contents of the editorial?

Politically-motivated speeches, propaganda posters and articles--these things create a catchphrase that often becomes cliche. I would like to make two points very clear:

1) I wrote my editorial as a response to what I saw as an outrageous event. As I was reading about the event, and how some proposed to respond to it, that phrase popped into my head. I know I am the last person who could claim credit for coining the phrase, but notice that at no point do I make such a claim.

2) This article was not meant as a political statement. It was meant to express how I personally felt about the attack in Fallujah. The work is mine, and mine alone.

Finally, for the record, I don't watch much TV anymore, and as of this moment have not seen the ad for the new game.

Thanks again for the comments, all, and for the support in spreading this around :)


As a college student in California, I can relate to Matt's comments of thinking differently than his peers. I am glad to see another young person assessing the facts and thinking for themselves. As for video game commercial, blah blah, I think some people watch so much TV, that they think everyone else must do so as well. Keep writing Matt, because I don't think I'm the only one who's impressed.


Excellent piece of writing Matt! You're quite sure you are only 17? In a few short paragraphs, you have summed up what the majority of Americans are feeling. I sincerely hope you continue to write because you have true talent!

Tony Lekas

I understand your concern about our response to this attack. For some perspective on this I reccommend reading: http://www.denbeste.nu/cd_log_entries/2004/03/Fallujaterrorism.shtml


Freedom isn't Free is part of an Army/Marine marching cadence that I imagine has been around for 40-50 years.

Some say freedom is free
but I tend to disagree
I say freedom is won
with the blood of someone's son


The expression "Freedom isn't free" has been around a lot longer than video games have.

My own favorite variant of it is: "Freedom isn't free -- but it's worth the price."


He got it from a Tom Clancy video game ad...and it shows more clear thinking (not to mention relistic) than anything coming out of Kos' mouth or anything posted on the Democratic Underground.

Goes to show that even things like a video game ad have more wisdom than some of the Left's thinking...

Gary Nguyen

The killings of four civilian contractors only showed that this murdering mob are not even humans. They enjoyed the killings because they are animals or people without souls.

Since Fallujah is a hot spot of anti-Americanism, let's our troops indiscriminately respond in kind by shooting the young boys and men who ambushed, multilated and hung these civilian corpses.

Let's not be kind to these murdering bunch of animals. We must put the boot to their asses and kill them all.

Next time, we should build gas chambers and put these murdering punks, hoodlums, terrorists or whatever gangs who ambushed our troops during their patrols. Let's use RPGs on them like they use on our troops, and let them know what its like to have a round of RPG in their stomach.

These murdering bunches must pay. AND THEY MUST PAY WITH THEIR LIVES.

Andrew | BYTE BACK

How about - he got the slogan - Freedom Isn't Free - from the new Tom Clancy video game TV ad.

Sad . Very sad.

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