By now you've probably either seen the video, or at least heard some second hand account, of the four U.S. Marine soldiers who appear to be urinating on the bodies of dead Taliban fighters.
It's shocking. It's uncomfortable. And in hindsight, it certainly seems below the standards that we set for our American soldiers.
I can't think of a viler thing to do to a person.
And there are a great many politicians, action and defamation groups, and even many military administrators calling for swift and strong action against these four members of our armed services.
Can't say as I disagree that there should be some form of punishment as the behavior is certainly against military code and without a doubt unbecoming of a soldier wearing the American flag on his uniform.
Now, with all those things said, I would caution all persons looking in at this behavior from the comfort they are providing us by securing our American borders, to walk a mile in their shoes before casting judgment.
These young men have been removed from their loved ones and dear friends, sent halfway around the world, to a land where they are despised, to try and stop an enemy that doesn't fight by the rules. Though I can't be certain, I imagine at least one of the these men have seen some pretty horrific things committed at the hands of the Taliban soldiers.
Local citizens tortured, raped and murdered to instill fear and compliance. U.S. soldiers dragged through the streets in celebration, some still hanging onto life. Civilians hung from overpasses. Lifeless bodies in a village courtesy of a suicide bomber.
The soldiers have seen and experienced things that most of us can't even imagine. And yet they continue to have to fight a guerrilla war, utilizing rules and a code of conduct not observed by the enemy, putting them at a distinct disadvantage.
After a firefight, with a group of Taliban soldiers, who would have beheaded them with glee had the outcome been reversed, a small group of Marines took a moment to show their lack of respect for the fallen combatants.
I can't imagine a more graphic image depicting the phrase, "war is hell."
At the same time, I'm not going to cast judgments on a group of men who risk their lives on an hourly basis to ensure that these Taliban animals die in a dirt hole in Afghanistan, rather than die behind the controls of an airplane, slamming into an American building filled with civilians.
I can't begin to imagine what these soldiers have been through. I'm guessing that when they committed this offense against the Taliban dead, they didn't really think it through. It was a reaction in the moment following a battle.
If you've never been in war, watched your friends shot to bits, or experienced the horror of combat, be careful the strength of your indignation.
Punish them, but take into consideration their service and the place where they were mentally when the action was committed.