Decatur soldier's courage won't get him any medals
Army Pfc. Brandon Simmons' form of bravery won't get him any medals, but he is a hero nonetheless.
The Decatur native, back from a 5-month tour in Iraq just long enough to marry Erin Shelton of the New Genesis Community, opposes the war.
But he is going back.
Mr. Simmons loves his nation. He has a bond with his fellow soldiers so strong that he considers them family. He respects the people of Iraq.
His duties in Iraq are dangerous. He escorts military and civilian personnel in Baghdad. He has survived the detonation of one explosive device; no doubt he will face more when he returns to Iraq.
While he opposes the war, he is not blind to the complex issues involved. He believes U.S. involvement is helping Iraqi citizens, and he speaks of them affectionately. "They steal your heart," he said.
He believes his nation is sacrificing too much, however, to wage a war that is not likely to provide long-term benefits for either Iraq or the United States.
"There are too many lives being risked for a purpose that is too confused," he said. "I don't see any good coming out of this."
It takes courage for Pfc. Simmons to criticize the war in a political climate where many who aren't in Iraq deem such criticism unpatriotic.
It takes even more courage for him to continue risking his life for a war he believes to be a mistake, but for a nation he is proud to serve.