Article first published as The Flag Flies At Half-Mast on Technorati.
For the past couple of weeks, I have noticed that the flag has been flying at half-mast. Although it is always noticeable when lowered, it has been this way for what seems longer than usual. The reason is there has been more than one loss of a young soldier in a short period of time. As time moves on, as the war spreads over years, we can become complacent in our realization that lives are being lost every day due to wars in another part of the world far away from the United States. A country that many of us will never know, never visit, and will never understand. President Obama has announced that troops will begin withdrawing from Afghanistan, and 30,000 will be sent to the U.S. by next summer. For Americans, the time has come to bring our people home.
Summertime has arrived. School has ended. The children are experiencing carefree days filled with relaxation and fun. We go off on vacations, spend time swimming, and have barbecues. The days are longer and the pace is slower. Life for many is enjoyable, and yet that flag flies at half-mast. I can only imagine the magnitude of the loss felt for these young people. The family and loved ones they left behind. The hope for the future they held, and the promise they gave to serve their country. It was a promise which most likely would have continued in some capacity upon their return.
Equally important are the soldiers who returned but have been physically injured or mentally impaired. They left Afghanistan, but are still dealing with the effects of war. So much has been given in order to fight an evil that destroyed a country, and threatened ours. For many, the memories of this war will linger long after we move on.
In this period between Memorial Day and the Fourth of July, we should remember all those who served to provide us with the freedoms of which we are accustomed, and often take for granted. Next summer there will be many others who will join us in our celebration of hope and happiness, of liberty and justice. In the meantime, we must continue to keep them in our thoughts and prayers for a safe return, and never forget the sacrifice they made for the love of our country.