By John Waterman
By John Waterman
Summer is just around the corner, and while some students will enroll in summer courses and others will be enjoying the sand and surf, Riverside City College student and United States Army Specialist Christian Knowlton will be on his way to Iraq.
Operation Iraqi Freedom has been a subject of controversy since it began in March 2003.
Many have an opinion one way or the other, others simply ignore the conflict. The perspective of the war according to Knowlton doesn’t rely on ethics, but on resolution, and for the freedom of a nation.
If the war ended today, Knowlton would say, “that it’s not because we pulled out, but because Iraq had achieved peace.”
Knowlton has served as an active duty soldier for four years, and has been in the reserves for the past two.
On June 1, he will be reporting for training, then shipped out to Baghdad, Iraq and will remain in active duty for a minimum of one year.
At the mention of redeployment Knowlton just shrugs with a level of annoyance, but also recognizes his duty as a soldier. “I would prefer not to be going back to Iraq, however I believe in what I’m doing, so I will do what is necessary,” Knowlton said.
The problem is that his role as a soldier and his role as a student conflict with one another. With the order of redeployment came other complications, such as dropping all of his classes a week prior to finals; which falls beyond a simple inconvenience.
“It is frustrating putting my education on hold for awhile, but I believe in what I’m doing,” Knowlton said.
Knowlton enlisted in the armed forces in February of 2002 following the attacks of Sept 11. “I wasn’t doing to well in school and the Army was a good way to refocus,” Knowlton said.
The military does present some advantages, and remains to be an adequate solution for young adults stuck in that transitional phase.
Soldiers are given the opportunity to see the world, make money and continue their education by way of online courses.
But more importantly they are given the unique opportunity to be a part of a cause that will in turn change the world.
Unlike politicians, these young men and woman fight for a belief, an idea and an objective that is intangible, rather than something physical.
Soldiers find themselves in the midst of a war where the enemy is truly indistinguishable from the allied. They are men and woman in a concrete land with minds of abstraction.
Nonetheless, Knowlton feels that peace is achievable in Iraq, with this approach there is no one that can argue otherwise, because thinking always precedes action.
People like Knowlton may have joined the armed forces for contrasting reasons, but they stay so that the people of Iraq might have the chance to choose for themselves how they wish to live.
After Knowlton has completed his duty as a soldier he plans to return home to southern California to complete his studies at UCR to earn a degree in ecology.
After obtaining his degree, Knowlton plans to become an environmental consultant, continuing to play an active role in the development and preservation of his surroundings.
Though Knowlton will be forced to leave behind those closest to him the experiences and friendships gained overseas are his fondest memories of the Army.
The sacrifices made by Americans such as Christian Knowlton should be held in the highest of regards; because they serve in a controversial conflict to preserve our way of life and to give the people of Iraq the opportunity to restore theirs.