When the war in Iraq began in 2003, we began publishing an annual list — on Memorial Day or the day before — of the men and women who have died in service to their country in Iraq and Afghanistan. Each year, we think the list will be shorter, and each year we’re wrong.
Each year, we think the list will be shorter, and each year we’re wrong.
When the war in Iraq began in 2003, we began publishing an annual list — on Memorial Day or the day before — of the men and women who have died in service to their country in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Despite the reduction of 150,000 troops in Iraq, the list seems as endless as it ever did.
We are a country that does not hold fast to its history. For this reason, we must guard against merely producing an obligatory laundry list. Every name is worthy of our remembrance. Every one bears a hidden story of a patriot, a family in grief, a reason why he or she decided to become a soldier.
The list is a reminder that 5 percent of Americans are sacrificing themselves daily for the 95 percent. It’s a sobering memorandum about how much the many depend upon the unselfish few.
PROOF OF PROGRESS
The list demands new focus on an ongoing conflict that has been rendered largely invisible. On any given day, turn on the television or look at the front page of any news website or newspaper and just try to find some mention of the people fighting it.
The list is proof we still believe that freedom is worth the sacrifice. It illustrates the grand and miraculous experiment, the unfinished saga that is this country. It also embodies the social progress we’ve made as a nation. The number of Hispanic names on the list is striking; then you learn that proportionately, more Hispanics volunteer for military service than any other group of Americans.
Their presence on the list is the result of an act of faith, a belief that the shining promise of America has not diminished.
Glance through the list, and you soon see that every state is bearing its fair share of the burden. In the last year, 30 Ohioans have returned home for the last time to rest beneath hillsides and along lake shores, in our biggest cities and in tiny towns we never heard of.
In adulthood, you learn there’s a price associated with everything; yet some costs seem so egregious, you can’t help but ask, “Why?”
The list recalls for us what freedom really demands, and that to take it for granted is the height of insult to those who die to preserve it.
Each name that graces the list deepens freedom’s value and teaches us once again that “free” just means that someone else is paying the price.