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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