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Published December 05 2012

Forum editorial: A tragic reminder of wars

The headline on the front page of Wednesday’s Forum was a reminder that the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq are far from over. The deaths of two North Dakota National Guard members and the injury of another in Afghanistan underscore the reality that the war is still a shooting war, a killing war. Troop drawdowns and withdrawals might be well under way, but for the men and women in uniform who are still serving in the war zones, the risk of death and injury has not diminished.

After a decade of war, Americans are less inclined to pay attention to what is happening in Afghanistan and Iraq. For most Americans, the wars have become distant conflicts that have had no appreciable impact on daily life in this country. Polls consistently confirm that a large majority of Americans want our troops to come home. Those same polls question whether the U.S. should have been involved so long in shooting wars in both foreign nations.

Furthermore, fewer and fewer of us have experience either with military service or with men and women currently in uniform. And that factor is multiplied because there are fewer and fewer in uniform.

Indeed, in 2012, for the first time in 80 years, none of the four candidates on the presidential ticket had military service on their resumes. And as if reflecting the sentiment in the nation, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and defense policy in general, hardly got a mention during the long presidential campaign.

Rightly or wrongly, most Americans do not see the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan as direct threats to the security of the U.S. But that’s a matter of policy. It is the policy that puts military personnel in harm’s way. The harm came home to North Dakota this week with the deaths in Afghanistan of Sgt. 1st Class Darren Linde, of Devils Lake, and Spc. Tyler Orgaard, of Bismarck. These brave soldiers were doing a job for their country, knowing the risks, even if many of the folks back home no longer pay attention.

It is disturbing that it takes the tragic deaths of two good soldiers to remind us of the costs of war. As long as men and women in uniform are in war zones, we must be aware of their dedication and the risk they face. And so, it is in that context we honor the service and sacrifice of Sgt. Linde and Spc. Orgaard, and mourn their loss.

Forum editorials represent the opinion of Forum management and the newspaper’s Editorial Board.