Monday, August 8, 2011

Honor Them...

By now, you've heard the news out of Afghanistan. Unless you actually live under a rock, you know that a Chinook was brought down by the Taliban. That 30 Americans, 7 Afghan commandos and 1 interpreter lost their lives in the crash. And it is certain that you know 22 of the Americans were Navy SEALs, many members of the elite Team Six.

The day I found out, I didn't really have the words. I was angry, sad, sick. The largest single day loss of American lives in the entire Afghan campaign. In one incident. A very good friend of mine has a friend who could've been involved, so I was also worried and fearful. We've since learned that he is OK, but he and others we know lost very good friends in the crash.

There is nothing good about this situation. Good is simply a word that can never apply to anything about this loss. But what I am grateful for is that the magnitude means this cannot be ignored. Despite the competing news, the downgrade, the stupidity of children who pretend to work on Capitol Hill, despite all that, this is not ignored.  National news and local news alike have shown not just the initial story, but the men behind the story, and the families behind the men. Americans are having it thrust into their bubble of existence that men are giving their lives on our behalf. And that these men leave behind parents, grandparents, wives, siblings, children. That they were young, with hopes and dreams and lives ahead of them.

And yet, in these stories, I am also angry. Of course, we all know Team Six was responsible for the death of bin Laden. SEALs, and Team Six especially, have gained this almost mythical popularity and reverence. Which they deserve. But over and over the story reiterates how Team Six killed bin Laden. Though they believe none of the dead were on the mission, that accomplishment is almost always included. And I wonder. If this were simply 30 guys. 30 Marines. 30 soldiers. 30 members of the National Guard. Would it get this same attention? I hope.

Because every man and woman who willingly puts on a uniform and goes to a foreign land so you and I can live free is heroic. They will tell me not to call them heroes. Not to revere them. They are just doing their job. But in doing their job, they have done so much more than you and I. So much more than the average American. And we owe them. We owe them for leaving their families for months and months at a time. We owe them for all the risks they willingly take. We owe them for the injuries, seen and unseen. For TBI and PTSD. For the nights spent sleeping in the field, on the floor of a vehicle in the middle of the Afghan desert. We owe them because they are willing to, and all too frequently do, give their lives for us.

I want us to honor the 30 who lost their lives in the crash. To learn their names. Learn about the families they've left behind. Step up to take care of those families. But I want us to honor everyone else just like them. Like Marine Sgt Daniel Gurr, 21 years old, who gave his life on August 6 in Helmand province Afghanistan, killed by enemy fire while clearing a village. Daniel loved soccer, and his mother said he always wanted to give back ( Like Army SSG James Christen, 29, and SGT Jacob Molina, 27, who were killed in Kunar province July 19 when their vehicle was hit by an IED. Both men were married (    I want us to honor them as well. I want us to know about each and every hero. All the men and women who gave their lives in a foreign land. In a war. For us. We must honor them.

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