November 11, 2004
"Those We Honor Today"
Writing in today's New York Post, retired Army officer and novelist Frederick J. Chiaventone contemplates this Veterans Day and the war on terror. An excerpt:
Now we hear on the radio or TV constant reports of how many of our sons and daughters have died in Iraq or Afghanistan — over 1,000. And we hear critics saying that enough is enough, and we should not be engaged and should bring the troops home as soon as possible. But the troops disagree.
When President Bush visited a young soldier in the hospital, he found that the man had lost his leg to a landmine in Iraq — but, when the president asked what the soldier wanted, the young man replied that he wanted nothing so much as to get on with his recovery and to rejoin his brothers in arms as soon as possible. This is the stuff dreams are made of. Sad dreams but proud . . . and praiseworthy.
The arithmetic of combat is a terrible thing. Yes, we've lost over 1,000 brave men and women to a terrible enemy over the past year. But, when you start the tally, don't forget about a previous math problem: 3,000 men and women — brokers, waiters, policemen, secretaries, firemen, emergency workers, janitors, airline pilots, grandmothers, children. They died in this fight as well.
They did not choose to fight. They were simply living their lives and the enemy made the decision for them, and they died not over a period of a year, or two, or three — they died over the course of a couple of hours. Don't ever forget that.
The brave men and women of our armed forces fight — and sometimes die — by choice. Because they believe in the value of what they are doing for all of the policemen and firemen and brokers and secretaries and janitors. They risk their all for us and the least we can do is say thank you . . . and God speed.
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