11 November 2011
It has been an honor these seven years to cover American and British troops in Iraq, Afghanistan, Philippines and elsewhere. It is said that only about 1% of Americans serve in the armed forces. Many of our troops are not even American citizens. I see them in combat regularly. Many veterans are in hospitals or have fresh scars and are recovering from recent wounds. A message just arrived from the military in Kabul that we just lost another service member in Southern Afghanistan.
Many of our finest will be in combat as you read these words. They will cope with their losses and continue to fight. Mostly they are very young. It is common to meet a young combat trooper who has fought for several years overseas. He doesn’t make much money. A heartfelt “thank you” goes a long way.
They have lost friends. Many of our young veterans have been wounded more than once, and yet they are out there right now. Some have more Purple Hearts than stripes. Their strength and dedication is inspirational. Their courage seems bottomless.
Tonight, many will sleep on the ground, their ears ringing from the nearby bullets and blasts that they have experienced so many times. They have killed the enemy, and watched their buddies die in their arms. They have seen and smelled and heard things that most of us rather would not. They will carry these things forever as Veterans. Tonight they will fight. We’ve already lost at least one today, yet most Americans seem to have forgotten that many of our men and women are still out there.
This is the longest war in the history of the United States. It’s far from over. I have not forgotten. I never will forget.
Thank you, Veterans.