12/26/05 — Remember why: Many gave all in mission of freedom

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Remember why: Many gave all in mission of freedom

It isn’t easy hearing reports that American soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines are still dying in Iraq, especially during the holidays.

No matter how righteous the mission, or how much of a commitment we have made to support the efforts of this struggling new nation, losing even one citizen of this country is a reason to pause and reflect on not just the mission, but its cost.

That is the way you honorably run a campaign of this magnitude and importance, while still never forgetting the heroes who are sacrificing to get you there.

And while there is still a need to be very confident that there is a job left to finish in the Middle East and a need for determination to stay until that mission is done, we should never forget that at least 2,168 men and women have lost their lives since the war began in 2003 to help get us to free elections in Iraq and freedom for the Iraqi people.

They are heroes who should be remembered and never forgotten.

These men and women fought not just for the Iraqis, but against a foe who kills indiscriminately, and whose mission is to destroy not only those who defy them in their own region, but anyone else who gets in their way.

Fighting against this sort of opponent has made the job especially difficult for U.S. forces.

Many of America’s servicemen and women have made it clear that they want to make sure the job is done before they come back home. It is the least they can do, they say, for the men and women who have sacrificed their lives to get us to this point.

So, news that Secretary of State Donald Rumsfeld is beginning plans to start bringing American troops home is a reason to celebrate. That means the mission is on track.

It will be nice to welcome our heroes back home.

But as we do so, we must not forget the mission that sent so many to fight for a country of people who were imprisoned by a tyrannical murderer and who are just now finding out what it is like to live a free life.

This mission was not just about freedom for Iraqis. It was — and still is — about safety for the world.

The same sort of terrorists who are killing Americans and international forces now are also murdering their own people — women and children included.

They declare war on anyone whose beliefs differ from their own — and that includes any Americans, no matter how innocent they might be.

It was this sort of disregard for human life that led to the deaths of more than 3,000 people in New York, Washington, D.C., and Pennsylvania just a few short years ago. And it is the reason that we must finish the job before we come home.

Terrorism is a real threat not just in the Middle East, but here at home, too.

Americans learned in 2001 that borders and oceans cannot keep our people safe.

Therefore, the best way to win this fight is to stop these murderers before they get to our shores, or gather enough support to launch another Sept. 11 attack.

Our heroes will soon be coming home. But when they do, we should not forget about the mission that sent us to Iraq in the first place. By keeping that objective in mind, maybe we won’t have to send them back — or mourn another massive loss of life at the hands of terrorists.

That is the outcome we should all want.

Published in Editorials on December 26, 2005 10:53 AM