BILL MOYERS: Matt Sitton knew the war in Afghanistan was going badly. He knew because he was fighting it. 26 years old, with a wife and child back home, Staff Sergeant Sitton was on his third combat tour there. His third.

Time and again, he and his men were sent through what he called “A minefield on a daily basis.” His comrades were being blown apart. At least one amputee a day, he said, “Because we are walking around aimlessly through grape rows and compounds that are littered with explosives.”

Morale was low. The men struggled to remain alert. Sitton said he asked his officers to give them a break but was told to stop complaining. “I am all for getting on the ground and fighting for my country when there is a desired end state and we have clear guidance of what needs to be done,” he wrote. “but when we are told basically to just walk around for a certain amount of time…not sitting well with me.”

At home in Florida, Matt Sitton had attended a Christian school run by the Baptist church attended by Congressman Bill Young. He wrote Congressman Young and told him what was happening. “I’m concerned about the well-being of my soldiers,” he said. “… I just want to return my guys home to their families healthy.” He ended, “If anything, please pray for us over here. God bless.”

On the 2nd of August, while on patrol, Matt Sitton and a buddy were killed. Blown apart by an IED--a hidden bomb. They flew his body home and held his funeral at that same Baptist church. For a long time before Matt Sitton died, Congressman Young called for sticking it out in Afghanistan. The powerful chairman of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense, a Republican, helped continue the war by voting against a House amendment requiring the President to set a timetable for withdrawal.

He’s changed his mind. Touched by what Matt Sitton wrote him, he asked that the letter be read into the Congressional Record, and has been talking to other veterans, hearing from them what “A real mess” the war is. Now he tells "The Tampa Bay Times," "I think we should remove ourselves from Afghanistan as quickly as we can. I just think we’re killing kids that don’t need to die.”

Killing the kids that don’t need to die. Let those words sink in. And this, too: Congressman Young says many of his colleagues in Congress feel the same way he does, but “They tend not to want to go public.” There are two more presidential debates. They will be yet another hoax unless someone puts the question to Barack Obama and Mitt Romney, “Why are we killing kids that don’t need to die?” And then ask it over and again until they have no choice but to go public.

Bill Moyers Essay: Honoring a Fallen Soldier’s Plea

“Why are we killing kids that don’t need to die?”

That’s the question Florida Congressman Bill Young was moved to ask after reading a letter written to him by Matthew Sitton, a young soldier who was killed in Afghanistan in August. In this powerful broadcast essay, Bill talks about the congressman’s surprising change in perspective, the soldier who inspired him, and how that question needs to be posed to the two men now vying to be our Commander-in-Chief.


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  • lostsouls remembrd11

    Godspeed young soul. Why? Why? Today I listened to a 1980 debate between Carter and Reagan and I was stunned by the same rhetoric then as there is now: terrorism, war, Iran, fear mongering. It’s all so pointless. People live, breath and talk w/fear. The political powers seem to believe they have an endless supply of souls to do their killing for them; and for what are these lives being lost for? None of the countries that we’ve attacked have invaded us/threatened us.

    These Congressmen are too afraid to go public w/how they really feel? Once again, there’s the fear; but this time and with these men……….they’ve lost nothing for their silence, have they.

    Lost souls rembrd

  • Donald Shank

    When I contrast the bravery of these young people ready to risk their lives for their country with the cowardice of Congressmen afraid to tarnish their image in front of their constituents, I want to weep.

  • Paul Calhoun

    How callous, insensitive, and gutless are these men and women we send to Congress, who after ten years of futility in Afghanistan, refuse to take a stand on this futile, hopeless, and barbarous conflict. Apparently our “leaders” fear such bold moves as actually believing in, or taking a stand on something would jeopardize their congressional careers, and prefer instead to let our soldiers as well as countless Afghan men, women, and children die in the wake of their cowardice.

  • kvpackard

    Me, too. And I did weep as I listened to this. It breaks my heart. So does the tribute paid by PBS Newshour to our fallen soldiers at the end of so many broadcasts. They’re so young and we’ve been complicit in killing so many of them.

  • kvpackard

    How many are actually profiting from the military industrial complex or the homeland security industrial complex or the education industrial complex? Most, I’m afraid.

  • wayne

    A prime example shows that how many politicians..are so hard nosed and wont listen to change…ever elected offical should take note that we need to remove ourselves from this stupid war….Good bless our troops striving to make a difference.
    Thank you for your sacrifce & RiP Sgt Sitton..

  • Anonymous

    Dying or being horribly maimed to maintain, if not expand the global U.S. corporate/militarist Empire is NOT “defending our freedoms”, regardless of the lies and propaganda told us by our corrupt, sociopathic Ruling Class, which includes Wall Street’s bribed servants in the White House and Congress. If the complicit media gave our young people the truth about the brutal U.S. Empire, most of them would no longer volunteer to be a part of its violence and oppression.

  • john clapp

    this is even more pointless than VN, we knew in 68 it was over, but money was being made so they just kept it going. get out now, do we need to waste 50 thou. just so corporate america makes more profits. I blame a corrupt congress for this 10 year mess. and they should be held accountable. fire them all.

  • Eddie Helms

    We should have been gone long ago…

  • shirleymcgreal

    It is notable that these politicians are ready to sacrifice the lives of brave young people while, unless I am missing some information, they are not going to war in this uncontrollable country themselves, nor sending their sons and daughters there. R.I.P. Matthew Sitton, and thanks to Congressman Bill Young for having the courage to change his mind.

  • Sheryll Lander

    Soldiers know the truth and were still here. Still here with a set of values that most Americans will never comprehend. What REDPILLED fails to tell you is what’s inside a Soldier. It’s what’s inside of us that matters…not your news, not your politics and definitely not the white house or wall street. What’s inside of us can’t be bought and it’s not for sale. You can’t find it anywhere else on this planet. It only lives and thrives in the heart of a Soldier. We can’t explain it….it’s just there. I remember vividly all the flags that went up the week after 911…..where are all of you now? Did you stop being Americans? When you decided to take down your 20 dollar flag and not replace it….did I cross your mind? Did you hang up your football flag instead? How many times have you bought a new one in the last 11 years? Instead of wagging your fingers at politics and wall street put your flags back up, become American’s again. THAT’S what WE are!

  • Sheryll Lander

    Soldiers know the truth and were still here. Still here with a set of values that most Americans will never comprehend. What REDPILLED fails to understand is what’s inside a Soldier. It’s what’s inside of us that matters…not your news, not your politics and definitely not the white house or wall street. What’s inside of us can’t be bought and it’s not for sale. You can’t find it anywhere else on this planet. It only lives and thrives in the heart of a Soldier. We can’t explain it….it’s just there. WE all want to go home…but WE also know that going home and closing all these bases will only serve to bring the enemy closer. Politicians MUST listen to their Commanders on the ground! WHEN YOUR COMMANDERS IN COUNTRY tell you that WE need MORE support…they didn’t just make that up!!! It’s reality and the draw down will only bring it back to the states. Soldiers UNDERSTAND this……Politicians and the President have their own agenda….I can assure you that “saving Soldiers” or this “Country” isn’t it!!!

  • Anonymous

    No one since Alexander the Great sometime before 323 bc has been able to conquer Afghanistan. The last of the Russians left Afghanistan on 15 February 1989. Can’t we learn anything from history or the Russian’s defeat? I know we went in to get Osama Bin Laden and the Taliban. However, Bin Laden is dead and the Taliban is nearly indestructible because of it’s amophorous nature and the fact that most of them are Afghans so the local populations will often support them. This war is not winnable. We need to do the right and logical thing and bring our troops home! Thank you for your sacrifice Staff Sgt Matthew Sitton and all the other brave soldiers in Afghanistan.

  • Arianna

    As a spouse, sister, daughter, granddaughter and one myself, I can say this about the military “experience”…No One IN the service does it to get rich and we get about as much “support” from the civilian community as we get from the services and VA when they are done with us i.e. little to none. And the military 1% are darn tired of “supporting” the civilian agendas. Bring them home, all of them and then help them to make some sort of life for themselves and their families. 11.9% (I believe that’s what I heard) of returning vets are unemployed……still.

  • Anonymous

    Eleven years ago, 19 madmen terrified this country. How is it that we are doing terrifying things to our own troops and the population of a whole other country, as well, to somehow fix that? Congress needs a collective psychiatric evaluation! Add the President to that, too!

  • WOW

    Matthew realized that he was a pawn in an obscene war.
    A war of choice is always obscene.
    America’s leaders are obscene when they contine to operate as if there is no war, when they hold veteran funerals secretly, when they claim moral authority, when they profit from their inaction and silence, when they spill the blood of our future, and especially when they ignore a cry for help.

  • Tom Berg

    I served in Afghanistan in 2003-04 when we probably could have finished what we set out to do – destroy al Qaeda and depose the Taliban – had we not squandered our resources instead on a senseless war in Iraq (where I later served toward the end of that folly). I thought at the time that the window of opportunity, with even a rudimentary understanding of Afghan histories and cultures, was small and rapidly closing. Now we are just slogging to an unsatifactory, negotiated end that we can do little to dictate, supporting a government in Kabul as regressive and corrupt as the one we toppled. Given 50 years our Army could fix Afghanistan to our satisfaction (if not the Afghans) but of course we are not given 50 years, we are not an imperial army of occupation, and our people rightfully lack the tolerance for such behavior. Two more years at this intensity of conflict seems hard to justify. And I agree with the comments below condemning the cowardice of elected officials who value their job security over their duty to serve the Republic. Not too many Cicero’s in the halls of Congress these days.

  • Dirna Shipley

    Thanks Bill.

  • Deborah

    I can’t believe you received a thumbs down for that comment, especially since we know this is why all of this was escalated. Rumsfeld turn these wars into an ATM for all these politicians that profit from their business associations to the war machine. You hit the nail precisely on its head.

  • Curtis

    Your heart breaks for this soldier and for his family. Such a strong, brave young man and now he’s gone when his family and his community needs him so much. How much longer before we pull the plug on this damnable hateful unwinnable war?

  • Sandi Bachom

    I filmed AWOL Sgt Micah Turner on Monday, he said more soldiers have died this year of their own hand than by the enemy

  • The Rev. Charles Pedersen

    Dear Bill: I want to encourage you and your readers to read the poem, “Dulce Et Decorum Est”. It was written by a leading English poet, Wilfred Owen(1893-1918). He died in the trenches in the First World War, but not before he wrote this extraordinary poem. It appears in Parabola Magazine, Spring Issue, 2012, p. 68. I had previously mailed it, but it did not appear in Commentary. I believe it is relevant and heartfelt, and speaks to your heartfelt message at the close of the program.
    Sincerely, The Rev. Charles Pedersen

  • leah #lovemyplanet

    That is right? so who is behind the lies and propaganda?

  • leah #lovemyplanet

    they should come home form all over the world, this imperialistic pursuits are being rejected everywhere and wasting money.

  • leah #lovemyplanet

    The only way to win there is to bring a million goats and let them loose all over the hills, that will them busy for 30 years.

  • leah #lovemyplanet

    yes there was no need for war for one man craziness…his motivation? stop US imperial aims.

  • leah #lovemyplanet

    I think we create less enemy when we stop invading

  • leah #lovemyplanet

    yes and a 4 year study to understand why had no explanation…it does not take 4 year study to understand why people suicide…
    I give you few reasons..multiple tours and feeling their country has failed them, they feel betrayed.