08/27/05 — U.S. has an obligation in Iraq’s quest for freedom

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U.S. has an obligation in Iraq’s quest for freedom

There are 1,500 men and women who are headed to Iraq from Fort Bragg.
About 250 airmen and women recently were deployed from Seymour Johnson Air Force Base.

And that is just what has happened recently and around here.

There are many people these days debating Iraq and why we continue to fight a war that is more than a little difficult at times, and has lasted much longer than we have hoped.

It is in part because of the millions of Iraqis, both in Iraq and abroad, who have a right to live in a country where part of the daily routine is not dodging bullets or torture.

It is also because the last time the world stood up and said “no more” to Saddam Hussein, we abandoned the fight too early, leaving a struggling rebellion unprotected and unsupported.

It is also because we gave our word to the families of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks that we would fight to make sure no other family would ever have to live the kind of pain that comes with losing a loved one to a terrorist attack.

But one of the reasons to continue the fight in Iraq revolves not just around the people we are sending over there now, but those who have come before.

The servicemen and women from all branches of the military have given time away from their families and faced danger daily to help this country carry out a mission — freedom for the people of Iraq and a toehold against the terrorists who are determined to kill those who do not share their beliefs.

Some have died. Others have lost limbs or suffered other serious injuries. They are the stories we often hear, and their sacrifices are ones we should never, ever forget.

Keeping an eye on our mission, and its successes and failures, is our duty to them.

But there are good news stories coming out of Iraq, too. There are people who are glad to see U.S. troops, and there are hundreds of soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines who are serving the people of Iraq with kindness, respect and a focus on the people, not just the military campaign.

They bring hope and share compassion with people with whom they only share one wish — the yearning to be free.

There are lots of reasons to want to see the end to fighting in Iraq. And there is nothing wrong with keeping an eye on when it will be time to go.

But as we start that debate we should remember there is a mission — one for which many families have already paid a very high price.

We owe it to them not to lose heart or resolve.

Keeping focused on that goal is as critical as keeping watch that we don’t overstay our welcome.

Published in Editorials on August 27, 2005 10:44 PM