View Full Version : Remembering Our Heroes

05-23-06, 07:41 AM
May 23, 2006
Remembering Our Heroes
By Jon Kyl

Every Memorial Day, Americans pause to remember those who died in service to our country. Our brave soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines separate themselves from friends and family, and are sent across the globe to defend our nation and preserve the freedoms we enjoy. Unfortunately, one of the sad realities is that some of our troops don‚€™t come home ‚€" and we must never forget their sacrifice.

Since the beginning of operations in Afghanistan and Iraq, we have lost 72 of Arizona‚€™s finest. Heroes like Lance Corporal John Thornton, 22, of Phoenix, who died in February from wounds received as a result of an enemy mortar attack in Ramadi. John always dreamed of being a Marine. As a child, he had his bedroom decorated with Marine memorabilia, such as camouflaged stuffed animals; and as a teenager, he was in the ROTC program at Tolleson Union High School, graduating top of his class in 2002. He enlisted in the Marines in 2004 and was deployed to Iraq shortly thereafter.

Private Lori Piestewa, 23, was a member of the Hopi Tribe, whose reservation is near Tuba City. Lori was classified as missing-in-action after enemy soldiers in Iraq ambushed her mechanical unit in March 2003, and was later declared dead in April 2004. Lori was one of the few American Indian women that served in our armed forces, and the first to lose her life in combat. Lori comes from a long line of heroes; her father served in Vietnam and her grandfather fought in World War I. Lori was a single mother and leaves behind two children.

John and Lori represent the millions of heroes who have defended, and continue to defend the rest of us. Their volunteer service and sacrifice will long be remembered and honored in Arizona; and we will celebrate their service and sacrifice this Memorial Day.

Our gratitude should also compel us to action here on Capitol Hill. As the House and Senate complete action on legislation that provides emergency funds for our ongoing efforts in Iraq and the war and terrorism, we must put the needs of our service men and women first, providing them with everything they need to accomplish their mission with the least amount of danger. The President has threatened to veto the bill if it is loaded with unrelated pork-barrel spending; and he should. The Senate added $14 billion over the military requirements when it passed the bill on May 4. I voted against that additional funding because it had no place on this emergency bill for our troops.

Memorial Day, amid the current global conflict, also makes us think about the lives lost in previous wars, and the sacrifices those soldiers and their families made for the security of America. In World War I, we lost 116,516 American soldiers; in World War II, 405,399; in the Korean War, 36,574 soldiers died; in the Vietnam Conflict, 58,209; and in the operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom, 2,721 lives have been lost.

I am grateful for and humbled by the service and sacrifice of these brave Americans, as well as all who have otherwise been causalities and continue to bear the scars of their wounds. Let us remember them all this Memorial Day.


05-23-06, 09:52 PM

05-25-06, 07:17 AM
What we owe the fallen
Posted 5/24/2006 8:37 PM ET
By Kathy Roth-Douquet

Memorial Day, as celebrated today, is a long weekend of barbecues and drinking beer. For many, it approaches its original purpose only as a demonstration of the American way of life that our men and women in uniform die to protect.

Memorial Day, of course, was chartered as a day for remembering those who have fallen in the nation's military service, those to whom we owe a debt for the very lives we live. But what if that debt were not merely rhetorical? What if we do owe, and it's payback time?

We are at risk of becoming a nation of delegators — we have others prepare our food and watch our children. Theda Scokpol, a leading Harvard sociologist, writes about how Americans now join issue groups that require nothing of us but our money. We delegate to others the job of helping and convincing our neighbors of the causes we believe in.

Increasingly, since the 1970s, we have delegated to a small cohort the risks and honor of armed service. To whom do we delegate it? Those who serve are largely middle- and working-class, from the South and West, and already from military families. Upper-middle class from the Northeast or California? Chances are, you are excused. We have, in effect, delegated to others the very stuff of our citizenship.

But not all of us. This Memorial Day, I will think particularly of Madison, with her soft brown eyes and bouncy pigtails and freckles. She is my second-grader's friend. This is her first Memorial Day since her father was killed in Iraq. I'll think of my neighbor on the base where I live. A few months ago, Summer lost her childhood sweetheart, Brandon, the father of her four schoolchildren. He was killed training in the east African country of Djibouti, which many Americans don't even know exists.

My own family

I'll think of them with love, and I will honor their families' service. I'll think inevitably of my own husband, who has two Iraq tours and many more deployments under his belt, and the risk that he may go again into harm's way.

My husband, my children's father, has always come home, thanks to his fellow soldiers and Marines. Our forces go not only to fight the enemy, but also to preserve the lives of the Americans who are there.

But why do they go in the first place? Why are we proud for them to go, once called? War is a terrible thing, yes, and this war is increasingly unpopular. We are not necessarily proud because of the war in Iraq. It is hard to know the right answer there, and we can only hope for the best.

We are proud because in the armed forces, one serves the Constitution of the United States, which requires that some of the people set aside the privileges of private life for a period, to shoulder arms and be willing to act in fealty to the whole. And what really is the alternative? The Constitution does not ask each of us individual Buddhas, each individual repository of wisdom, to decide in our own mind how the nation should act. It instructs us to decide and act together, to engage together, and in so doing to be loyal to each other.

The decision before us as a country at any time might be to fight or not fight. To peacekeep, to interdict, to train others, to rebuild. But the decision will be made together, and the response should be made together.

Ours — all of ours

Too little is done now together — the president exhorts us to go shopping, not to share in a civilian war effort, as in previous wars when Americans bought war bonds or conserved resources.Today no leadership helps us do so.

And those who protest our involvement often disavow their part in national decision-making. One hears "this is not my war," or "this is not my president." But it is our war. It may be ours to end (our part of it, that is), ours to reformulate, or ours to stay the course on — but ours nonetheless.

The soldiers, Marines, airmen and corpsmen are there because we civilians, as a whole, bid them to be — even those individuals who were against the invasion from the start, and we do not honor them by denying it. Protesting, in other words, doesn't disconnect you from the whole. And while we can be true to our duties as citizens by taking part in the debate, we should strive to do it as the country's founders imagined a free people would, with an effort toward wisdom, understanding of the issues and respect.

For unless we are a "we," we cannot continue. This is perhaps a leap from where Americans are today, a people described by sociologist Robert Putnam as those who "bowl alone," who are increasingly disaffected and disengaged.

We do not need to settle for that. Perhaps the cure for disengagement is engagement. For apathy, action. For disaffection, affection. When Madison's family and Summer's family allowed the father and husband they loved to go into harm's way for the country, it was a gesture of love for us all. If we remember what we owe them — owe ourselves, in fact, in participation — then perhaps Madison and Summer's children can grow up in a country worthy of all that their families have given us.

Kathy Roth-Douquet is co-author, with Frank Schaeffer, ofAWOL: The Unexcused Absence of America's Upper Classes from Military Service — and How It Hurts the Country. She lives on base in Jacksonville, N.C.


05-25-06, 09:24 AM
A grateful nation
Cal Thomas

I watched the HBO documentary "Baghdad ER," not only to see whether it lived down to the expectations of some conservatives who claimed, without seeing it, that the film would be an anti-war propaganda screed; I also wanted to be reminded of the cost of freedom.

The program was "MASH" without as much humor, though there was humor amidst the blood, pain, death and grief. The documentary shows the reality of war. Viewers can read into it whatever they wish, but I found it authentic and compelling. What continues to amaze is how many of the wounded men and women did not want to leave Iraq, preferring to rejoin their units as soon as possible.

Chaplains prayed with the wounded and for the dead. If the ACLU objects, someone should tell them to shut up.

We are told that most people don't have any relatives in today's all-volunteer military, or know anyone who does. That is too bad, because such people are missing out on the privilege of knowing a group of young men and women whose commitment to duty, honor and country is refreshing in a self-centered universe.

Memorial Day honors those who took up arms in the defense of freedom and the common values shared by free people. These men and women lost their lives so that we (and others) could maintain our freedom. Unless you know them, it is difficult to understand their reasons for leaving behind comfort and loved ones to give their lives so that others might live in freedom.

Eighteen months ago, I wrote about a remarkable young man who I have known since his birth. Specialist Daniel Calvin Dobson of Grand Rapids, Mich., joined the National Guard with the intention of going to Iraq. He served and he came home. Next week, he leaves for a second tour. He tells me the Army has a policy that anyone who has already served in Iraq is not required to go back should his unit be recalled. Daniel volunteered to go back. In e-mail to his friends, he asks three things: "First, do not lose hope in the face of negative reporting. We are doing good work in Iraq and G-d is with us. Second, pray for those of us who have chosen to serve our nation and the liberties espoused by our Constitution. Third, I ask that you never take advantage of the liberties guaranteed by the shedding of free blood, never take for granted the freedoms granted by our Constitution. For those liberties would be merely ink on paper were it not for the sacrifice of generations of Americans who heard the call of duty and responded heart, mind and soul with 'Yes, I will.'"


05-25-06, 09:36 AM
Our Heroes should always be remembered no matter when or how long they have been gone.