This letter was written by Charles Grennel and his comrades,
veterans of the Global War on Terror.
Grennel is an Army Reservist who spent two years in Iraq and
was a principal in putting together the first Iraq elections
in January 2005.
It was written to Jill Edwards, student at the University of
Washington, who did not want to honor, Medal of Honor
winner, USMC Colonel Greg Boyington. Ms. Edwards and other
students and faculty do not think those who serve in the
U.S. Armed Services are good role models.
Miss Edwards, I read of your student activity regarding the
proposed memorial to Colonel Greg Boyington, USMC and a
Medal of Honor winner. I suspect you will receive many angry
emails from conservative people like me. You may be too
young to appreciate fully the sacrifices of generations of
servicemen and servicewomen, on whose shoulders you and your
fellow students stand.
I forgive you for the untutored ways of youth and your
naivete. It may be that you are simply a sheep. There’s no
dishonor in being a sheep, as long as you know and accept
what you are.
Most of the people in our society are sheep.
They are kind, gentle, productive creatures who can only
hurt one another by accident. We may well be in the most
violent times in history, but violence is still remarkably
rare. This is because most citizens are kind, decent people,
not capable of hurting each other except by accident or
under extreme provocation. They are sheep.
Then there are the wolves who feed on the sheep without
Do you believe there are wolves out there who will feed on
the flock without mercy? You better believe it. There are
evil men in this world and they are capable of evil deeds.
The moment you forget that or pretend it is not so, you
become a sheep. There is no safety in denial.
Then there are sheepdogs and I’m a sheepdog.
I live to protect the flock and confront the wolf. If you
have no capacity for violence and you are a healthy
productive citizen, you are a sheep.
If you have a capacity for violence and no empathy for your
fellow citizens, then you have defined an aggressive
sociopath, a wolf. But what if you have a capacity for
violence, and a deep love for your fellow citizens? What do
you have then? A sheepdog, a warrior, someone who is walking
the uncharted path. Someone who can walk into the heart of
darkness, into the universal human phobia, and walk out
We know that the sheep live in denial – that is what makes
They do not want to believe that there is evil in the world.
They can accept the fact that fires can happen, which is why
they want fire extinguishers, fire sprinklers, fire alarms
and fire exits throughout their kid’s schools. But many of
them are outraged at the idea of putting an armed police
officer in their kid’s school.
Our children are thousands of times more likely to be killed
or seriously injured by school violence than fire, but the
sheep’s only response to the possibility of violence is
denial. The idea of someone coming to kill or harm their
child is just too hard. So they choose the path of denial.
The sheep generally do not like the sheepdog. He looks a lot
like the wolf.
He has fangs and the capacity for violence. The difference,
though, is that the sheepdog must not, cannot and will not
ever harm the sheep. Any sheepdog that intentionally harms
the lowliest little lamb will be punished and removed. The
world cannot work any other way, at least not in a
representative democracy or a republic such as ours.
Still, the sheepdog disturbs the sheep. He is a constant
reminder that there are wolves in the land. They would
prefer that he didn’t tell them where to go, or give them
traffic tickets, or stand at the ready in our airports, in
camouflage fatigues, holding an M-16. The sheep would much
rather have the sheepdog cash in his fangs, spray paint
himself white, and go Baa. That is, until the wolf shows up,
and then the entire flock tries desperately to hide behind
one lonely sheepdog.
The students, the victims, at Columbine High School were
big, tough, know-it-all high school students, and under
ordinary circumstances would not have had the time of day
for a police officer. They were not bad kids; they just had
nothing to say to a cop. When the school was under attack,
however, and SWAT teams were clearing the rooms and
hallways, the officers had to physically peel those
clinging, sobbing kids off of them.
This is how the little lambs feel about their sheepdog when
the wolf is at the door. Look at what happened after
September 11, 2001 when the wolf pounded hard on the door.
Remember how America, more than ever before, felt
differently about their law enforcement officers and
military personnel? Understand that there is nothing morally
superior about being a sheepdog; it is just what you choose
Also understand that a sheepdog is a funny critter. He is
always sniffing around out on the perimeter, checking the
breeze, barking at things that go bump in the night and
yearning for a righteous battle.
That is, the young sheepdogs yearn for a righteous battle.
The old sheepdogs are a little older and wiser, but they
move to the sound of the guns when needed, right along with
the young ones. Here is how the sheep and the sheepdog think
The sheep pretend the wolf will never come, but the sheepdog
lives for that day.
After the attacks on September 11, 2001, most of the sheep,
that is, most citizens in America said ‘Thank God I wasn’t
on one of those planes.’ The sheepdogs, the warriors, said,
‘Dear God, I wish I could have been on one of those planes.
Maybe I could have made a difference.’ You want to be able
to make a difference.
There is nothing morally superior about the sheepdog, the
warrior, but he does have one real advantage. Only one. And
that is that he is able to survive and thrive in an
environment that would destroy 98 percent of the population.
Research was conducted a few years ago with individuals
convicted of violent crimes.
These cons were in prison for serious, predatory crimes of
violence: assaults, murders and killing law enforcement
officers. The vast majority said they specifically targeted
victims by body language: Slumped walk, passive behavior and
lack of awareness. They chose their victims like big cats do
in Africa, when they select one out of the herd that is
least able to protect itself.
Some people may be destined to be sheep and others might be
genetically primed to be wolves or sheepdogs. But I believe
that most people can choose which one they want to be, and
I’m proud to say that more and more Americans are choosing
to become sheepdogs.
Seven months after the attack on September 11, 2001, Todd
Beamer was honored in his hometown of Cranbury, New Jersey.
Todd, as you recall, was the man on Flight 93 over
Pennsylvania who called on his cell phone to alert an
operator from United Airlines about the hijacking.
When they learned of the other three passenger planes that
had been used as weapons, Todd and the other passengers
confronted the terrorist hijackers. In one hour, a
transformation occurred among the passengers – athletes,
business people and parents – from sheep to sheepdogs and
together they fought the wolves, ultimately saving an
unknown number of lives on the ground.
Edmund Burke said ‘There is no safety for honest men except
by believing all possible evil of evil men.’ Here is the
point I want to emphasize, especially to the thousands of
police officers and soldiers I speak to each year. In nature
the sheep, real sheep, are born as sheep. Sheepdogs are born
that way, and so are wolves.
They don’t have a choice. But you are not a critter. As a
human being, you can be whatever you want to be. It is a
conscious, moral decision. If you want to be a sheep, then
you can be a sheep and that is okay, but you must understand
the price you pay. When the wolf comes, you and your loved
ones are going to die if there is not a sheepdog there to
If you want to be a wolf, you can be one, but the sheepdogs
are going to hunt you down and you will never have rest,
safety, trust or love. But if you want to be a sheepdog and
walk the warrior’s path, then you must make a conscious and
moral decision every day to dedicate, equip and prepare
yourself to thrive in that toxic, corrosive moment when the
wolf comes knocking at the door.
This business of being a sheep or a sheepdog is not a yes-no
dichotomy. It is not an all-or-nothing, either-or choice. It
is a matter of degrees, a continuum. On one end is an
abject, head-in-the-sand-sheep and on the other end is the
Few people exist completely on one end or the other. Most of
us live somewhere in between. Since 9-11 almost everyone in
America took a step up that continuum, away from denial. The
sheep took a few steps toward accepting and appreciating
their warriors and the warriors started taking their job
It’s OK to be a sheep, but do not kick the sheepdog. Indeed,
the sheepdog may just run a little harder, strive to protect
a little better and be fully prepared to pay an ultimate
price in battle and spirit with the sheep moving from ‘baa’
We do not call for gifts or freedoms beyond our lot. Just
like the sheepdog, we in the military just need a small pat
on the head, a smile and a thank you to fill the emotional
tank which is drained protecting the sheep.
And, when our number is called by The Almighty, and day
retreats into night, a small prayer before the heavens just
may be in order to say thanks for letting you continue to be
And be grateful for the millions of American sheepdogs who
permit you the freedom to express even bad ideas.
I told you this was a great letter by Charles Grennel. Was I
So what are you?
If you are a wolf, get off my list now.
If you are a sheep, let me help you become a sheepdog.
If you are a sheepdog, let me sharpen your teeth and claws
and help you become a sheepdog that ALL wolves fear.
I want you to go to this link and take advantage of my
greatest offer ever: