He is a student at a local university. She drops her children off at daycare before heading to the office. On the surface they appear to be your average Americans, but there is something that sets them apart from the rest: They are currently enlisted in or are veterans of the United States military.
They walk among us every day, carrying with them the burdens and experiences that come from being a part of war. This opinion is not to say ‘end this war now.’ It is not to bash former administrations for their actions and the consequences that affected our nation. It is not a forum to solicit an easy solution to the current situation. This is a reminder that regardless of our beliefs, we should and need to remember the actions of those who have fallen to protect our lives and our country.
Here in our Linfield bubble, it is easy to forget about what is going on within the McMinnville community, let alone what is happening throughout the entire world. As of April 7, 2009, there have been a reported 4,266 deaths of military persons since the war in Iraq began in 2003. These men and women were brothers, sisters, mothers, fathers and friends who went beyond the call of duty to serve our nation.
April 6 marked the first time in nearly 20 years that a fallen soldier’s arrival to the United States had been documented by the media. A previous law, revoked by President Barack Obama, prevented journalists from covering the return of the deceased. Now, with the permission of families, journalists have the opportunity to film and take photos of these arrivals, adding to the already chilling reminders of the toll this war has taken on the United States.
According to CNN.com, the April 6 coverage was the first documentation of a soldier’s arrival out of approximately 5,000 deaths since fighting began in Afghanistan in 2000. No longer can we sugarcoat the realities of war. People have died and people will continue to die, but Americans cannot continue to turns their heads away from these devastating realities.
As stated before, I do not care what your beliefs are, but we are eternally indebted to the men and women who wake up every morning to make sure we can get up, go to classes and spend time with our families and friends.
By chance, during my senior year of high school, I met a young man who had just enlisted in the Marine Corps. I don’t remember much about that first conversation except for his willingness to sign away a minimum of five years of his life in order to serve his country. As time would have it, we eventually fell out of touch, but his selflessness, his courage and his devotion to our country has impacted me for the rest of my life.
It amazes me that there are so many people with this same mentality walking among us every day. Call them protectors, fighters or angels, we owe it to them to at least acknowledge what they’ve given up for us.
Whether it is verbal or just a mental acknowledgement, say thank you to these extraordinary individuals. It is the least you can do.