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The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

Texas A&M utility Gavin Grahovac (9) throws the ball during A&Ms game against Georgia on Friday, April 26, 2024, at Olsen Field. (CJ Smith/The Battalion)
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The BattalionMay 4, 2024

Americans must be grateful for sacrifices made by soldiers

In the wake of another successful demonstration of democracy, the 2004 election, in commemoration of Nov. 11, Veterans Day, and in anticipation of Thanksgiving, the day many Americans pause to give thanks for that which they hold dear, it seems extremely timely to salute our American soldiers of today and yesterday. While most Americans readily recognize the tremendous sacrifice soldiers are ever-willing and sometimes forced to make, their lives, other sacrifices inherent in the position all too often seem to be overlooked. How do we appreciate our soldiers? Let us count the ways.
First, America must thank its soldiers for living every day with their lives at risk so as to better secure the protection of ours. Most recently, in the battle to secure Fallujah, American soldiers daily endure a reality that is literally unimaginable to most Americans at home.
Fox News described elements of the gruesome battle as it unfolded: “Pool footage showed U.S. forces battling insurgents in a neighborhood surrounding the mosque. Troops were pinned down by gunfire on a rooftop, forced to hit the deck and lay on their stomachs.” The precariousness of the situation in Fallujah is underscored by the frequency of car bombs, the most recent of which killed at least 19 people, according to CNN. “Huge plumes of black smoke rose in the air as a dozen cars mangled in the blast burned, and bystanders pulled bodies and bloodied victims from the rubble,” according to Fox News, “…witnesses reported bodies on the streets, with dogs hovering around them. Residents said they were running out of food in a city that had its electricity cut two days ago.”
The magnitude of this gift, U.S. soldiers’ willingness to give their lives for their country, is a sacrifice that may require enduring the direness of life amidst a city in turmoil to fully comprehend, but one for which Americans must nevertheless be sincerely and perpetually grateful.
Additionally, as soldiers become the arm – so to speak – of America, they must forego their ability to be its voice to a large degree. As Americans debate the course of action the country should take in Iraq, an American soldier must be willing to enact its choice regardless of whether he agrees with it. In a situation where obedience is required for survival, dissent is a non-option. Yet, the freedom to dissent is one of the most fundamental of Americans’ rights. It is truly ironic that U.S. soldiers who are fighting to preserve Americans’ right to question their government cannot do so themselves. It is a sacrifice that often seems ignored, but willingly silencing one’s voice, if only temporarily, so that the voices of others may be heard is a forfeiture Americans must recognize and appreciate.
Finally, U.S. soldiers are also required to postpone their pursuit of happiness, which in many ways seems the greatest sacrifice of all. Whether leaving behind a family, an education, a career or simply one’s autonomy and right to self-determination, American soldiers are ultimately asked to put their personal development and well-being on hold to secure those very assets for the rest of the country. Thus, even if American soldiers are never called upon to pay the ultimate price for their country, every one of them must daily sacrifice their lives in the form of personal wants and desires – for this, Americans at home are enormously indebted to them.
Former President Reagan once said, “Democracy is worth dying for, because it’s the most deeply honorable form of government ever devised by man.” Yet, most of us are never called upon to prove our dedication to America and to everything for which it stands; most of our lives are not exacted as the perpetuation of democracy’s inevitable cost. American soldiers, however, must reaffirm this commitment every day they spend fighting for America’s protection. As U.S. soldiers fight for Americans’ rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, they must temporarily forego their own. For this, for the soldiers fighting in Fallujah today, for the veterans of the wars of yesterday and for the soldiers immortalized in death, we the American people are deeply, profoundly grateful.

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