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Hedrick Family photo taken in August 2009 – three months before my oldest son, Adam, and his wife, Natalie, returned to Iraq for their third tours of duty.
Dear Friend and Supporter,
Monday, Americans will pause to observe Memorial Day, a time of reflection on the sacrifices made by members of the military in wars and conflicts at home and around the globe. Regrettably, some will merely note it as a day without work or school. Perhaps they will think of it as the beginning of summer. However, Memorial Day should call our attention with laser-like focus and clarity–not only on the sacrifices of the past, but on those of the present as well.
This week marked the 1000th American casualty in the war in the Afghan theatre. It is a somber benchmark for Americans, and follows on the heels of 4400 US deaths in Iraq. These numbers underscore the fact that when our leaders put our military in harm’s way, they must be certain that the goal is worthy of the terrible sacrifice that will be exacted. General Stanley McChrystal, commander of forces in Afghanistan, expressed the reality of these sacrifices well when he stated earlier this month, “Every single casualty affects people. It affects leaders, but more importantly it affects families, it affects children, it affects parents (and) spouses. So each one of them is sacred.”
Americans may disagree on policy, but there is no disagreement on the sanctity of the ultimate sacrifice made by our military personnel. Decades ago, President Garfield expressed the sentiment concisely: “For love of country, they accepted death.” It is a sobering thought we should hold closely as we mark Memorial Day 2010.
Monday, I will think of those who gave the last full measure of devotion for our country, and hope that my children currently stationed in Iraq–and all our brave men and women in uniform around the world–return home safely to their loved ones soon.