Early Friday morning, gold star mother Debbie Lee penned an emotional open letter to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Martin Dempsey.
Lee was upset and offended by comments made by Dempsey at a press conference the day before, when the general was asked if there were sufficient coalition resources to keep the Iraqi city of Ramadi from falling into the hands of the Islamic State.
In his response, Dempsey referred to Ramadi as a "humanitarian problem" but also said it is "not symbolic in any way."
"It's not been declared, you know, part of the caliphate on one hand or central to the future of Iraq," Dempsey said. "We'd much rather Ramadi not fall, but it won't be the end of a campaign should it fall."
The city of Ramadi may not be "symbolic" to Dempsey, but it is to Debbie Lee.
On August 2, 2006, her son, Navy SEAL Marc Lee, was killed in Ramadi. He was the first SEAL killed in Iraq, and since that day, Lee has dedicated her life to supporting the troops and keeping the memory of her son alive through her foundation, America's Mighty Warriors.
Image source: America's Mighty Warriors
Lee spoke with TheBlaze Friday afternoon, saying she had hoped to email her letter directly to Dempsey, but when she called the office of the Joint Chiefs, "they would not give me an email address for the general." Instead, Lee was told to put the letter in the U.S. mail.
Lee said did not believe Dempsey would ever see her letter, so she decided to post it on the foundation's website and distribute it to media outlets, including TheBlaze.
After reading the entire letter, TheBlaze contacted Dempsey's office for a response. Speaking with Richard A. Ecker, the director of community outreach for the office of the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, we learned the computers in the office were not able to access Lee's website and since she had just mailed the letter that morning, it would have been impossible for the general or his staff to have seen it.
TheBlaze forwarded the entire letter, without edits or comments to the office, early Friday afternoon.
No reaction from Dempsey or his representatives was received at press time.
Below is Debbie Lee's entire open letter to Gen. Martin Dempsey:
I am shaking and tears are flowing down my cheeks as I watch the news and listen to the insensitive, pain inflicting comments made by you in regards to the fall of Ramadi.
"The city itself is not symbolic in any way" oh really are you willing to meet with me and with the families who have lost a son, daughter, husband, wife, father, mother, aunt, uncle, grandson, or teammate?
My son Marc Lee was the first Navy SEAL who sacrificed his life in Ramadi Iraq Aug 2, 2006. His blood is still in that soil and forever will be. Remember that was when so many of our loved ones were taken from us. You said that "it's not been declared part of the caliphate on one hand or central to the future of Iraq." My son and many others gave their future in Ramadi. Ramadi mattered to them. Many military analysts say that as goes Ramadi so goes Iraq.
What about the troops who sacrificed their limbs and whose lives will never be the same. Our brave warriors who left a piece of themselves in Ramadi. What about the troops who struggle with PTS/TBI who watched their teammates breath their last or carried their wounded bodies to be medevac'd out of Ramadi.
I've traveled to Ramadi and visited Camp Marc Lee in 2007. I brought back soil from that city where Marc breathed his last. I interviewed Iraqi General Anwer in 2010 when I returned. I asked him "If you could say one thing to the American people what would you tell them? He paused and with deep emotion said "We will tell our children, our grandchildren, for generations to come we will tell them what Americans have done. There is American blood poured out on our soil." It seems the Iraqis understand the importance more than you do sir.
You sir owe an apology to the families whose loved ones blood was shed in Ramadi. Ramadi matters to us and is very symbolic to us. You need to apologize to our troops whose bodies were blown to pieces from IEDs and bullet holes leaving parts and pieces behind, Ramadi matters to them. You need to apologize to our troops who endured the extreme temperatures and battled the terrorists in some of the worst battlefields in Iraq, Ramadi matters to them. They carry vivid memories of the battles and the teammates whose future is gone, Ramadi matters to them.
You and this administration have minimized that Ramadi could fall, now you are minimizing that it is falling, but you Sir WILL NOT minimize the sacrifice my son Marc Lee made or any of our brave warriors!
Awaiting an Apology
After the note was posted, Lee also contacted Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), who with Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) issued a joint statement calling Dempsey's statement about Ramadi a "gross mischaracterization."
"Disregarding the strategic importance of Ramadi is a denial of reality and an insult to the families of hundreds of brave young Americans who were killed and wounded during the Surge fighting to free Ramadi from the grip of Al Qaeda," the statement said.
McCain also went on Fox News calling out Dempsey and the administration for downplaying the significance of Ramadi:
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