Memorial Day is the time when we as a nation reflect on all those lost during wartime. It’s also time for us to consider if continuing the military operations in both Afghanistan and Iraq is worth all that we’ve lost.
Far too many local families know the true costs of war.
Ralph Lisk of Lemont, Ill., now only has memories of his son Terry, a U.S. Army sergeant who died in Iraq in 2006.
Loved ones of Army Sgt. Pedro Colon of Cicero, Air National Guard Staff Sgt. Jacob Frazier of St. Charles and Army National Guard Sgt. Kevin Grieco of Bartlett, also in Illinois, are enduring the same pain. Colon was killed in Iraq in 2007, Frazier in Afghanistan in 2003 and Grieco in Afghanistan in 2008.
These are but a few western suburban households forever affected by the conflicts we’ve waged in both countries. The oldest local resident killed was Grieco, who was 35. The youngest killed were Army Pfc. Leonard Gulczynski of Carol Stream, Marine Lance Cpl. Nicholas Larson of Wheaton and Marine Lance Cpl. Adam Kaiser of Naperville, all 19.
Of course, no war is without casualties. It’s humbling to comprehend the enormous risks each family accepts to defend our freedoms.
But after nearly a decade of war, we need to ask how many more lives must be sacrificed. Will remaining in Afghanistan and Iraq much longer guarantee a more acceptable security than what we have now?
Our military has made tremendous strides in stabilizing these two countries. But the price for this has been more than 6,000 lives.
It’s not clear how much more we can expect to accomplish there. We have to accept that Afghans and Iraqis must chart their courses. It’s easy for us to view our being there as a profound good.
We toppled the bad buys, after all, and that’s what counts. But we’re not the ones with foreign troops patrolling our streets. These countries belong to the Afghans and Iraqis, and it’s time we let them take charge.
A colleague last year asked if Memorial Day was a good time to make this point. Why would I want to politicize such a solemn occasion?
Considering all the noble individuals who have died, is there really a more appropriate moment? When would it be more fitting to question the lingering value of these wars than when contemplating all that we’ve already lost?
The goal of our national defense is to keep the peace. Let’s offer some measure of this to Americans suffering the most by bringing these conflicts to an end.
Jerry Moore is the opinions editor for Suburban Life Publications near Chicago. Contact him at (630) 368-8930 or firstname.lastname@example.org.