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Closer to the flagpole
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One of my resolutions for Rosh Hashanah — the Jewish New Year — is to be less quick to judge a person or a situation, trying instead to get all the facts before I come to a conclusion. Being a journalist, this is a valuable skill, as well as a character improvement.
I began a job as a reporter at the Coastal Courier in Hinesville and the Bryan County News in Richmond Hill last month. My major beat is to cover the military, which means following goings-on at Fort Stewart. I have learned I have much to learn about the military. I thought having been a military spouse would serve me well and help me to better understand our service members. But the military has changed in the 15 years since my husband was active duty.
Our nation’s War on Terror in Iraq and Afghanistan are challenging our men and women in uniform like never before. The deployments are longer and more dangerous.
I’ve covered several military ceremonies and exercises and have spoken to everyone from privates to generals, men and women from their 20s to their 50s. What has struck me is this: They are all willing to serve, no matter where they’re sent. Not one of them I’ve spoken to has said they won’t go.
These soldiers do not express concern for themselves, even though many will be deploying to Iraq in October, and others are training so they can join their fellow soldiers next year.
They express both a desire to be successful in the missions and a concern for the people they leave behind. They want to be sure their parents, wives, husbands and children — especially their children — will be well cared for while they’re deployed.
Soldiers say they want to assist the people in Iraq, to train them to take care of themselves and to learn how to keep themselves and their families safe and secure. And, these soldiers truly believe they are helping to spread democracy to other lands.
Whether you agree with what brought us to war in Iraq and Afghanistan, our young people are offering themselves for a cause they believe in.
I receive daily e-mail advisories from the Pentagon listing troop casualties. I scan each one to see if there is a connection to a hometown in South Georgia or to Fort Stewart. These soldiers’ deaths are the ones to whom we give press coverage. With a touch of a button, the other names are deleted.
That’s what saddens me most; I delete their names in a second on my computer, knowing their deaths will forever affect their mothers, fathers, grandparents, siblings, spouses, sons and daughters in communities around the country. Every one of their lives was precious, and not one of their sacrifices can be measured.
This Rosh Hashanah, I plan to be always mindful of the fact that my country is at war, and that idealistic young people are serving in extremely rough conditions, risking their lives while we sit home, safe and in comfort.
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