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Forgotten Sacrifice

By F. John Duresky
Wednesday, July 5, 2006; A13

A few days ago, as I do every day in Iraq, I listened to the commander's battle update. The briefer calmly and professionally described the day's events. Somewhere in Iraq, on some forgotten, dusty road, an insurgent fighting an occupying army detonated an improvised explosive device (IED) under a Humvee, killing an American soldier. The briefer fielded a question from the general and moved to the next item in the update.

The day before that, in America, a 15-year-old's incredibly rich parents planned the biggest sweet 16 party ever. They will spend more than $200,000 on an opulent event marking a single year in an otherwise unremarkable life. The soon-to-be-16 girl doesn't know where Iraq is and doesn't care. That same day an American soldier died in Iraq.

Two days earlier, a 35-year-old man went shopping for home entertainment equipment. He had the toughest time selecting the correct plasma screen; he could afford the biggest and best of everything. In the end, he had it installed by a specialty store. He spent about $50,000 on the whole system. He has never met anybody serving in the military nor served himself, but thinks we should "turn the whole place into a parking ed parties and barbecues. Families came together from all across the country to celebrate the big day. Millions of dollars were spent on fireworks. At public events, there were speeches honoring the people who served and those who made the ultimate sacrifice. These words mostly fell on bored ears. While the country celebrated its own greatness, other Americans were still fighting in Iraq.

Today Americans go back to their normal business. The politicians in Washington have made sure the sacrifices of the war are borne by the very smallest percentage of Americans. They won't even change the tax rates to prevent deficits from running out of control. Future generations will pay the cost of this war.

Many Americans feel strongly about the war one way or another, but they aren't signing up their children for service or taking the protest to the streets. What can they do? It is they whom we in the military trust to influence our leaders in Washington.

Today, as on every other day in Iraq, American servicemen are in very real danger. Our country is at war. Mothers, fathers, wives, husbands and children are worrying about their loved ones in a faraway land. They all hope he or she isn't the one whose luck runs out today.

The writer is an Air Force captain stationed in Iraq. © ;2006 ;The Washington Post Company
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