Image courtesy: Pfc. David Hauk, U.S. Army. Kandahar, Afghanistan, November 12, 2009

Monday, July 26, 2010

Among us

Image courtesy: Cpl. Ned Johnson

We see them in airports, often headed for destinations around the world. They stand in line with us at restaurants and movie theaters, or pass by on the jogging trail. Of course, U.S. troops serving in Afghanistan and Iraq are not supermen and wonderwomen incapable of feeling pain. Many miss home, and all are affected by the unique emotions of war.

Losing a friend and fellow service member on the battlefield is difficult for a civilian like me to imagine. Saturday in Afghanistan, two units felt that extraordinary pain when five U.S. troops were killed in two incidents. The 5th Battalion, 3rd Field Artillery Regiment, 17th Fires Brigade, Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington, lost four volunteer warriors when an improvised explosive device planted by terrorists detonated in Qalat. The fifth fallen hero listed was serving in Helmand province with the 1st Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, II Marine Expeditionary Force, Camp Lejeune, North Carolina.

Staff Sgt. Conrad Mora, 24, San Diego, California
Sgt. Daniel Lim, 23, Cypress, California
Spc. Joseph Bauer, 27, Cincinnati, Ohio
Spc. Andrew Hand, 25, Enterprise, Alabama
Lance Cpl. Frederik Vazquez, 20, Melrose Park, Illinois

Instead of filling airports, theaters, diners, and parks in the coming days, five families will grieve alongside hundreds of mourners in different cities around the country. If you live near any of these locations, check local newspapers for information about public processions and memorial services for your hometown heroes. As I discovered in April, joining together to personally honor a fallen warrior is an essential American experience.

Just moments ago, I watched several national media pundits debate whether we are 'losing' the war in Afghanistan. Had I been in the studio, I would have asked each panelist to recall how they felt on September 12, 2001. As an awakened, grieving nation yearning for justice after 24 hours of horror, we pledged to win this war, no matter how long it took. Fortunately, we still see citizens honoring that solemn vow, even though some were in elementary school when America was attacked. The men and women of the United States military will never give up.

Note: The above video is not posted as a product endorsement. The commercial aired only once, during the first post-9/11 Super Bowl on February 3, 2002.

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