Last week I had the privilege of attending a yelow-ribbon ceremony honoring Fort Hood soldiers and their families. The ceremony was sponsored by the Harker Heights Military Affairs Committee (MAC) and “warm and fuzzy” is the best way I can describe it. Jeanne Isdale, one of the co-chairs for the MAC, had some wonderful things to say about our military members, as did other community leaders who were there. It is clear that Killeen, Harker Heights, Copperas Cove, and the other communities that surround Fort Hood value the Armed Services and—as Ms. Isdale said so well—“have our backs.”
But what about the rest of this country? With the Afghanistan war—“Operation Enduring Freedom”—winding down, many of us are reflecting on what the last 10-plus years have meant for us and for our military. Initially full of patriotism and a shared sense of horror and sadness after 9/11, we were a country united. Then it was March 2003 and we were at war, first in Iraq and subsequently Afghanistan. The losses have been staggering by our modern standards—nearly 7,000 military members have died and hundreds of thousands have been injured, some grievously. In addition, thousands of coalition troops, contractors, innocent civilians and NGO workers have been killed or wounded. Contemplating all this loss is heartbreaking. Wondering if the average American citizen understands our military’s mission, or—pardon my bluntness—truly cares—makes it doubly so.
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