AL ASAD, Iraq -- A border patrol class marched proudly into a large tent in a remote and dusty spot in western Iraq earlier this week. The class of more than 50 men graduated June 27 from a three-week course of instruction to prepare them for the challenges they will face on the country’s borders.
The guest of honor at the graduation was Col. William S. Aitken, the commanding officer of Combat Logistics Battalion 2, headquartered here.
“I am humbled to stand in front of such brave men,” said Aitken. “You have worked hard during your training, and it takes courage to do what you are going to do.”
Aitken went on to compare the similarities between Iraq today and America 230 years ago when our forefathers began to forge our free republic.
He told the graduates how brave men fought hard to start a new country based on freedom. “It was a hard fight,” he said. "Fighting for freedom is never easy. Yet even after all these years these men are our American heroes because of their dedication and bravery.”
According to Aitken, the fighting in Iraq is hard. “And even though it is a hard fight, you have made the hard choice,” he said. “You have chosen to help shape your country’s destiny. Years from now school children in Iraq will read and learn about your bravery and you will be heroes in your nation for your determination to bring freedom and democracy to Iraq.”
While news reports are quick to highlight the troubles here and newspaper reporters and television’s talking heads seem fixated on the tragic news in Iraq, Aitken urged the men to remain true to the cause. “Remember this,” he said, “your families will be free because of you … and your nation will be a great and free nation because of you.”
America’s history is evidence that the path to freedom, the path from oppression to liberty for all, is not an easy one. There will be challenges that lay a head for these men who – freely – decided to take up the responsibility to protect their country. But these men are not alone.
Aitken assured the men that they need never forget that the United States is with them in this hard fight, “Always remember that the United States and Iraq will always stand together in this fight against terrorists. You are going to do great things, and I congratulate you and wish you much success.”
After the ceremony the graduates gathered outside and managed to sit still long enough for a few group photos before breaking into dance in celebration of their successful completion of the course.
These men will soon be at their border posts doing their part in securing a brighter future for themselves and their families … a free country for the people of Iraq.
This year more than 250 Iraqi men have completed this training here and have taken up the challenge to serve their country on the borders of Iraq. It will be dedicated men such as these who will guarantee peace, freedom and a brighter future for Iraq.