10/22/11 — Home, for now: President's announcement great news for heroes who got job done

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Home, for now: President's announcement great news for heroes who got job done

No one really knows what is going to happen now that President Barack Obama has declared an end to the U.S. military presence in Iraq.

All we can be sure of is that it has been a long road -- and this nation's soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines have done their country proud.

And no community is likely more aware of the last part than Wayne County. We are heartened every day by the bravery, dedication and integrity of the men and women who serve at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base. We know our country -- and our future -- could not be in better hands.

But even though we are thrilled that so many families will be made whole by this Christmas, there is still a lingering doubt, a little worry, about what this change will mean.

And then there is knowledge that there are still thousands of American service members in general, and U.S. Air Force airmen in specific, still doing battle in Afghanistan.

We want them home safely soon, too.

And that is why some officials are a little reserved when they talk about what's next -- and what Friday's announcement really means for the future of the U.S. and its military.

President Obama said Friday that this news is the first step to directing more of our resources to rebuilding our own country. And it will.

But the president needs to be aware that we were building our country when this nation was attacked on Sept. 11, 2001. That was the day when we were reminded just how dangerous this world really is.

And, a decade later, it is still dangerous.

Those who know best whether this is a good move are those who are serving on the ground in the Middle East. They know if we can, safely, move on. They know if the Iraqis have built a country that they can police on their own.

The U.S. has been through this before. When we leave unstable areas, they become more unstable -- and that is when despots come into power.

Let's hope the president listened to those who are there and whose counsel is the most important -- the generals, the service members and others who run the lines, protect the country and train the Iraqis every day.

The measure of the true success of Friday's announcement will be if American service members can really come home, and stay home.

That is the dream that most Americans have for their heroes -- and the goal for which their leaders should strive.

Published in Editorials on October 22, 2011 11:16 PM