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John Rote, Published November 11 2009

Has nation lost determination to take on enemies of freedom?

By John Rote

As usual this time of year, my mind is full of remembrances of my own military service. The highs and lows of that time, the friends made, and the friends lost. The visual reminder of Vietnam – the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall, with the names of the 58,195 who did not return to us – brings a deep and haunting grief to my soul every time I see it.

But this year, my heart and mind are burdened with the conflict in Afghanistan. My heart hurts when I think of the 3,066 people who perished on Sept. 11. My heart breaks when I think of the 800-plus deaths since we invaded Afghanistan and ousted the Taliban and al-Qaida.

Every fiber of my being is overwhelmed with confusion and disbelief at how, from all appearances, many people, and especially some of those in Washington, seem to have forgotten that not only was this country attacked, but attacked on our own soil. And yet, now that the war is getting tougher, people are willing to cut our losses and run. Are their memories so short? Are those who died not worthy of justice?

The argument that might makes right may be arguable, but in the theater of war, might makes for safety. There is strength in numbers. Overwhelming fire power is a deterrent. The more boots we put on the ground in the near future will make those boots in place now safer, and will act as that deterrent. Not only as a deterrent to the people who attacked this country from re-establishing themselves, but as a deterrent to them attacking our brothers and sisters serving in combat zones now.

While there may be those in Washington who have forgotten why we are in Afghanistan, we can find peace in our hearts that those now in service, or those who have already served, have not been forgotten. Those who have made that supreme sacrifice had not forgotten. Those who may have forgotten are diminishing the memory of those who perished on 9/11, and the memory of and supreme sacrifice made by those 800-plus fighting to protect this country, not to mention the sacrifice and suffering endured by their families.

One has to wonder if the moral fiber and patriotic sense in this country have grown so thin and flimsy that we can no longer stand up for ourselves and for what makes this country great. One has to wonder what happened to the determination to vanquish our enemies that this country had in the ’40s when we were attacked at Pearl Harbor. Let us hope that it will not take another 9/11, or worse, to find that determination.