The spouses and families of our soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan never have a problem remembering that this country is at war. They never confuse our current state of affairs with a basic conflict, or police action or even a peace-keeping mission.
However, most Americans have the luxury of not having to remember that we are in fact at war in two different countries, with thousands of our troops squarely in harm’s way, everyday.
The tragic headlines over the weekend about the helicopter that was shot down in Afghanistan, killing over 30 soldiers, provided a sober reminder to all of us that we are indeed at war, and our troops are indeed still in dangerous situations, every day.
When Osama bin Laden was killed, we Americans were able to not only feel good about Public Enemy No. 1 being eliminated, but we also received a reminder that our military has the ability to make precision strikes with great success.
But between the precision success of that mission, and the fact that many of us do not have a direct personal connection to a person serving in the military, it was very easy to think that the entire mission in Afghanistan could go the way of a great Tom Clancy novel.
However, the disaster over the weekend served as a bracing bucket of ice water that war is not a Tom Clancy novel, and even precision Navy SEAL strike teams can be lost.
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What’s unknown at this point is what Americans in the middle will do with this new reminder of the realities of war. Before the attack, there were already factions wondering why we are still in Afghanistan and factions who say we can only leave once the Taliban is completely eradicated. But where will the middle go after the affect of this weekend’s disaster sets in?
There are solid arguments to leave today, and solid arguments to leave when the job is done. Determining the best move to honor the soldiers that died this weekend, and that have died and been injured over the last 10 years, is extremely difficult.
But, for me, a final decision is not the key outcome. The key outcome of this disaster and the best way to honor all of the dead and injured is to have the conversation and make that conversation a priority.
The soldiers killed this weekend, and the thousands that perished before them, died to not only protect us from harm, but to protect our freedoms, chiefly among them, our freedom of speech.
PHOTO GALLERY: Colorado Troops In Afghanistan
The greatest legacy we can give them is to remember their sacrifice by talking about it and talking about what we should do next. All of that talking may be difficult, uncomfortable and even painful, but it’s the very least we can do.
The solution to the problem will come, as long as we begin to pay attention to the problem.
Ignoring or forgetting that this country is in fact at war is the very worst and most offensive thing we can do to their memory.
About The Blogger
– Dominic Dezzutti, producer of the Colorado Decides debate series, a co-production of CBS4 and Colorado Public Television, looks at the local and national political scene in his CBSDenver.com blog. Read new entries here every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Dezzutti writes about federal, state and local matters and how our elected leaders are handling the issues important to Colorado. Dezzutti also produces the Emmy winning Colorado Inside Out, hosted by Raj Chohan, on Colorado Public Television.