Thursday, November 12, 2009

"The American soldier is a pretty impressive young man."

I'm a bit late on this one, but I hope everyone took time today to consider the sacrifice of those who have served this country and who continue to do so. One of the more moving things I read on this Veteran's Day was George Packer's account of a memorial service in Afghanistan last May for two soldiers from 3 BCT, 10th Mountain.

I asked Adler how his company had taken these two deaths. “The men are really resilient,” he said. “They’ve held together pretty well. These are numbers fourteen and fifteen for me since I’ve joined the Army.” He smiled slightly. “The American soldier is a pretty impressive young man.”


At the memorial service, Adler had been the first speaker. “Nothing will bring back our brothers in arms,” he had said. “But we can go on fighting for our nation, and for each other.” His emphasis was on the last three words.

Sometimes we forget that the men and women facing danger for this country are just regular guys and gals, many of them 19-year old dudes who'd be playing X-Box or hanging out at the mall if they weren't taking hostile fire on the other side of the world. (If you need a reminder, check out this Denver Post photoessay that Ex highlighted earlier in the week.) But they are there, doing hard things -- and doing them with a rare sort of confidence and strength, as CPT Adler reminds us -- and we're not. We ought to be thankful for that, and for them.

As we remember our veterans here in America, let's think also about what else this day means in so many places around the world: armistice, peace, freedom, and in some cases, independence reborn.

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