CBS Challenges Marine Recruit's Linking of 9/11 and Battle in Iraq

After Monday's CBS Evening News showed a clip of a Marine recruit at Parris Island explaining that he volunteered because “I want to be fighting the evils that did what they did to us on September 11th," reporter Sharyn Alfonsi related how “all three of the recruits we sat down with say they enlisted because of September 11th.” Alfonsi, however, couldn't let such an apparent link between 9/11 and the war in Iraq go unchallenged and so she quickly admonished the naive recruits as she stressed how “politicians will argue whether the war and 9/11 are related” -- though she added that “clearly here, to these recruits, the two are inseparable."

Alfonsi's clarification about 9/11 connections came in an otherwise very positive story about three Marine recruits and their disappointment that more Americans are not closely following the war. Her piece was the first of a new series, “CBS News Road Tour: The Home Front,” which will take Alfonsi and her mini-van to Ft. Benning in Georgia on Tuesday. Full transcript follows.

For the series, has set up a “Daily Road Log” for Alfonsi in which readers learn that ten years ago Alfonsi visited Parris Island to see her Marine recruit brother.

Alfonsi's October 10 CBS Evening News story, picking up after her explanatory comments about the series.

Sharyn Alfonsi, over the base sign and video of an obstacle course: “This is where Marines are made. First stop: The dreaded obstacle course. It's supposed to build strength, but it also tests character, often in inches and agony. It's where we met Michael Laurello, a scrappy 19-year-old who enlisted right out of high school.”

Alfonsi to Laurello: “Michael, what did your mother say?”

Michael Laurello: “My mother actually cried. It was like a funeral at my going away party.”

Alfonsi: “You have to wonder why anyone would voluntarily enlist during wartime.”

Laurello: “I want to be fighting the evils that did what they did to us on September 11th.”

Alfonsi: “All three of the recruits we sat down with say they enlisted because of September 11th. Politicians will argue whether the war and 9/11 are related but clearly here, to these recruits, the two are inseparable.”

Alfonsi to three recruits: “Do you think the rest of America is touched by the war or untouched by the war?”

Unidentified female recruit: “The younger kids, some of them they don't understand and they're not touched by it.”

Laurello: “I think the rest of America has actually forgotten about what happened on 9/11 and I don't think America wants us to be over there fighting the war, they say it's not our war, but to me we're helping other people.”

Trenton Roberts, Marine recruit: “We're more helpful. When we see a need to help somebody we're willing to do so because we're the big brothers to other countries.”

Alfonsi: “Do you get that feeling ever that people just don't care about the war?”

Luarello: “All the time, all the time.”

Alfonsi: “Despite that, Michael Laurello and a new class of recruits are going through hell and likely headed to war, by choice.”

Laurello: “In my heart this is what I want to do and there's nothing that's going to change that. There's nothing that can change that.”

Alfonsi: “And I think it's worth mentioning that all the recruits we spoke to say they had other options. They had college scholarships available or jobs. One of the recruits would have been able to take over his parents' multi-million dollar business. Their decision was not financial, it was personal.”

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