Honoring the fallen

March 3, 2007

As I was scanning my local news from the Daily Camera, I came upon an article about a local soldier, Staff Sgt. Joshua R. Hager, 29, who was killed in Iraq. His family lives in Broomfield, just down the road from Boulder. The article mentions some other local people who joined the military to serve their country and were also killed in Iraq.

Just taking the occasion to say thank you to these brave people and their families for their sacrifice. It has not gone unnoticed.

I have written a lot about why I think the “War on Terror” we are fighting is worth it, and the rationale behind it, but I think about the soldiers as well. Whenever I see a story about what the soldiers are dealing with I pay attention, and I love it when they are given a chance to tell us all what they are doing and how things are going. There are a lot of people who, when they see the daily list of soldiers who have been killed in Iraq, feel sad and demoralized. It is sad for me, but I don’t get demoralized. Instead, to every one of the fallen I say “Thank you”. Thank you for doing your part to preserve our freedom. I feel sad because I know it’s a sacrifice for all involved. It’s a visceral reminder that freedom is not free. I feel fortunate that we live in a country where there are those who see it as their calling to serve and if necessary to die for the freedom we enjoy. There are people in other countries who have not been so fortunate.

There’s a scene from “Saving Private Ryan” that’s been running through my head as I’m writing this. It’s at the very end. Captain Miller has been mortally wounded, and the battle is over. Before Miller dies, Private Ryan approaches him. Miller tells him, “Earn it!…Earn this.” The movie was largely fictional, but it ended with a good message. We can and we should strive to make ourselves worthy of their sacrifice.