11/24/07 — Firsthand: Goldsboro resident witnesses a building block of freedom

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Firsthand: Goldsboro resident witnesses a building block of freedom

You see the reports all the time in the national media: Everything is in shambles in Iraq.

From communities that are rebelling against the American “invaders” to restless troops who are unnerved by the conduct and progress of the war, the media have a story almost every day about how concerned Americans should be about the battle in the Middle East.

And if you just went by their accounts, you might think that all is lost and that it is time to pull up stakes and come home.

But then, every once in a while, another story seeps out and readers and viewers get another perspective on what is really going on in Iraq and Afghanistan and the true feelings of many of the servicemen and women who are there.

This weekend, we shared with you the firsthand view provided by Goldsboro resident Troy Pate.

He traveled overseas to see the troops — specifically U.S. Air Force airmen — as a member of the Air Force Chief of Staff’s Civic Leader Group.

He talked to many of the young men and women serving overseas and got to see some of the operations.

And according to Pate’s account, many of those who are serving their country are pleased with the progress of the work they are doing and are anxious to continue to fly until the job is done.

Now, that should not come as a surprise to anyone who has had dealings with Seymour Johnson Air Force Base airmen or any other Air Force personnel for that matter. They are determined to accomplish their mission to the best of their ability with dedication and commitment.

But what surprised Pate, and many others who have reported back from their trips to the battlefield, is that the picture is not nearly as dire as it has been portrayed back home.

In fact, some say, up close, it seems like the job is being done well — slowly, but efficiently.

Americans want quick ends to their wars just like they want quick results from most everything they do. So, the fact that it is taking longer than anticipated just isn’t an answer most of us are used to hearing.

But this is an important task — a building block for the future safety of our children and grandchildren — and one that should not be rushed or performed without the future in mind.

To make an informed decision, we need more than just soundbites. We need different viewpoints and the ability to really talk about goals, progress and what kind of effort we want to give to Iraq and the Middle East.

Then, when the goals have been accomplished and the work is done, we can bring our troops home, without having to worry about sending them right back — or mourning another 3,000 Americans whose lives were taken in a terrorist attack.

Published in Editorials on November 24, 2007 10:48 PM