Commentary: Soldiers' stories have different endings

Thursday morning two noteworthy events, both involving military men, took place here in Columbus.

One has already received, and will almost certainly continue to receive, intense national attention.

The other has not, and probably won't.

The first was a bit of political theater played out on the steps of the federal courthouse. An Army reservist, Maj. Stefan Frederick Cook, was pursuing his claim — in court and on the media stage — that he is under no legal obligation to report for active duty in Afghanistan because President Barack Obama is not eligible to hold the office to which he was elected.

Challenges to Obama's citizenship have already been dismissed in two federal courts. Judge Clay Land dismissed this one as well, on the grounds that it is moot: The Army has already informed Cook he doesn't have to go.

But the issue, Cook and his attorney Orly Taitz insisted, isn't about his not wanting to go to Afghanistan — it's about "following illegal orders and [being] subject to prosecution … I could be prosecuted by the Uniform Code of Military Justice and if captured I would not be privy to protections under the Geneva Convention."

Imagine the implications: Thousands of yet-unprosecuted American military criminals half a world away, illegally defending Maj. Cook's freedom to stand before cameras and microphones and publicly challenge the legitimacy of his commander in chief.

The second story played out more quietly.

Army Specialist Isaac Lee "Chip" Johnson, 24, arrived home from Afghanistan Thursday morning, about the same time Maj. Cook was making his case for not going there.

Unlike Maj. Cook, Spec. Johnson didn't answer any media questions. He had died July 6 when an IED exploded near him in Konduz, Afghanistan. He was one of four soldiers, two of them Georgians, who were killed in that attack.

To read the complete editorial, visit The Columbus Ledger-Enquirer.