BY DANIEL B. KLINE
Soldiers have no say in how or where they are deployed. Once an individual enlists in the military he turns himself over to his commanding officers, accepting the fact that he has sacrificed his right to choose his fate in favor of the greater good of his country.
Joining the Army, Navy, Air Force or Marines means completely accepting your mission no matter how you personally feel. A soldier must do his duty even when he disagrees with, or doesn't understand, his mission. The men and women of the Armed Forces don't have the luxury of considering the merit of their assignments. They operate without considering who politically supports their task or what voters may think about their Commander in Chief.
It's too easy during what has become an unpopular war to forget about what the Americans serving in Iraq have sacrificed for us. They have left their families, friends and loved ones behind - not because they had to enlist, but because they chose to. Many of these brave men and women are reservists who answered the call to duty even though it disrupted their careers, damaged their finances and left their lives at home in a state of uncertainty.
Every person who enlists makes a decision that many of us civilians find impossibly brave. By signing up for the Army, Navy, Air Force or Marines, these men and women agree to give their lives to save ours. They also accept that their sacrifice may not be appreciated and that their deaths could come in a war not celebrated by the American people.
Currently there are thousands of Americans serving in the war in Iraq and over 2,000 who will never return home. This war isn't on our own soil and it isn't about saving an ally or rescuing a like-minded nation. It's easy to forget these men and women fighting in a country most of us will never see and many of us could not locate on a map.
While these soldiers spend their time in oppressive heat living under harsh conditions, so many of us have moved on. The war in Iraq no longer leads the evening news and there are many days in which the newspapers hardly make mention of the Armed Forces. We didn't mean to forget or to diminish our respect for their efforts, but for many Americans the war has become a question of politics and the people have faded into the background.
The facts of this war and your personal opinion on whether President George W. Bush made the right decision in fighting it, does not make it any less of a war for the soldiers involved. It's not any more noble to die in a popular war and it must be a lot harder to do your duty when the people at home question your mission.
These brave Americans won't be home for Thanksgiving and some will never join their families for another holiday. Supporting their efforts and hoping for their safe return to their families and loved ones isn't a political statement, it's a human one.
On this holiday where we say thanks for the blessings in our lives, we must all take time to offer our heartfelt appreciation to these soldiers. Thank you and please, come home safely.
Daniel B. Kline is a freelance writer based in Connecticut. His book "50 Things Every Guy Should Know How to Do" will be released in April and his blog can be viewed at www.thingseveryguy.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.