10/24/11 — A loss: 24-year-old's death a reminder of what is at stake in Middle East

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A loss: 24-year-old's death a reminder of what is at stake in Middle East

It is easy to sit in an office or in a living room and bandy about what the next step should be in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The moves -- and consequences -- are hypothetical and there are no faces attached to the analysis. The decisions are based on "what-ifs" and not the result of a real measure of what could happen if budgets are cut, troops reduced or increased or if the U.S. pulls out too early or too late.

That's what you do when you are not there and you have no real measure of the impact of the hypotheses you present.

And then you get news that a 24-year-old's life is over because she was in the wrong place at the wrong time when her unit was hit by insurgents.

Then you remember. This is not just about defense budgets, diplomacy and politics. This is about lives.

The news that the Goldsboro unit of the National Guard lost a member of its team is a sobering reminder that there is more at risk than this nation's standing in the world or a balanced budget when decisions are made in Iraq and Afghanistan.

In addition to the importance of making the right choice to protect this nation's future, we also have to think about the men and women who will continue to carry out the mission or who will be called back to serve in case this round of withdrawals lead to even more unrest.

It is heartbreaking to think that there are still so many young people at risk and that such action has been necessary. And this is also a critical reminder of just what war costs. Something we should never forget.

Published in Editorials on October 24, 2011 10:00 AM