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Remember our troops as Iraq war comes to an end

December 18, 2011
By JOSHUA FLESHER , Tribune Chronicle | TribToday.com

In Friday's edition of the Tribune Chronicle, the top headline read ''Iraq war is over.''

The words can be seen as a relief that our time of war is over, but as with any other war the scars of what these past nine years have been may have only just now begun to show.

I remember exactly where I was when the operation began, sitting in my college apartment with my then-girlfriend, who has since become my wife, and she began to cry.

In looking back on that evening, I believe her tears and the pit in my stomach came from the overwhelming uncertainty as to what we were going to see happen.

We had only been dating a couple weeks at that point and were not far removed from the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. Both of us had friends who had enlisted in the military out of high school and we began to worry about those who would certainly be deployed.

I think it was during those first couple years after the United States was attacked that we all had a heightened sense of concern regarding our safety.

I was only a 9-year-old kid when Operation Desert Storm began, and until the 2001 attacks, that was as close as I came to an actual war.

There were operations and tense moments during the years between, but after 2001 it felt almost inevitable that we would become entangled in an actual war.

Then, in 2003, we realized that war was a certainty.

In the nearly nine years that have passed since then, we have seen historic moments and for many of us, we have lost loved ones who bravely served in the military.

A young man that I grew up with and knew well died serving his country, and I have a number of friends who served numerous tours of duty.

The statistics released on casualties during the war are difficult to digest, with 4,500 Americans and 100,000 Iraqis killed along with 32,000 Americans and tens of thousands of Iraqis wounded.

Some would say that our president at the time, George W. Bush, was trying to finish what his father started during the first Iraq War, but I believe that by labeling these wars or conflicts in such a way diminishes the work and sacrifices that were made by the young men and women who voluntarily served their country.

The war polarized this nation with people on each side standing firm to their belief that the war was either just or not just. I had several occasions when I sat with a friend and argued intensely about our beliefs on what role we had to play and what our reasons were to be there.

And now, nine years later and thousands of American soldiers either dead, wounded or carrying emotional scars that we may never see, the arguments on the end of the war as being muddied just as the start of the war was.

Looking back to that day nine years ago, the concerns and fears that we felt those days after the war began were justifiable. We didn't see any attacks on our home soil, but when so many of our own were transplanted over there it felt no less real.

And I hope that we remember that although the war has ended in Iraq, we still have men and women serving in Afghanistan and all around the world who need our continued support.

I have seen both my sons born in tumultuous times, under the cloud of a foreign war and I hope, for their sake and for the sake of the rest of our country that they never have to experience it ever again.

Joshua wishes everyone a very Merry Christmas and can be reached at jflesher@tribtoday.com

 
 

 

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