By Lynn R. Mitchell
The words by Michael Daly hit hard:
Master Sergeant Joshua Wheeler, the first American to die in Iraq against ISIS, is a reminder of those who have sacrificed in two wars that never really ended.
Fourteen combat deployments.
Eleven bronze stars, four with a V for valor.
Seventy hostages rescued in the final mission.
One flag covered coffin, to be met by one new widow.
Four sons now without a father, one a new baby.
One posthumous Purple Heart.
And 319 million Americans in perpetual debt to Master Sergeant Joshua Wheeler, 19 years-old at enlistment, 39 when he became the first American solider to die in Iraq since the war supposedly ended there.
Too many of us have acted as if we were not at war at all during these last 14 years. We all but forgot about those who were deployed again and again and again as we preoccupied ourselves with the likes of the Kardashians.
Military families have been through it all … spouses who act as single parents while the other is at war, parents who worry every minute of every day about a son who is in the desert of Iraq or Afghanistan, pastors praying for the safety of parishioners while in harm’s way.
A Facebook commenter nailed it with this:
This man is a great hero – and there are at least 70 people, plus the Kurdish soldiers who were pinned down, alive because of his valor. However, that is an awful lot of tours. We need a bigger army. Since the press no longer covers our forces in the field like they did when Bush was President, with daily body counts and reminders of how terrible war is, the public is largely unaware of the huge sacrifices made by our soldiers and their families. We need a larger number of service men and women to spread out deployments. It’s too much to ask the same people to go back again and again.
In Augusta County, the anti-war people were out in force through President George W. Bush’s administration, holding rallies in downtown Staunton complete with anti-war signs and even a local lawyer dressed as the Grim Reaper. They were countered by Support the Troops rallies but we’ve not been called into action since Democratic President Barack Obama went into office.
Remember Cindy Sheehan? All her anti-war rhetoric that even took her to the president’s hometown in Texas and to a rally in Charlottesville (see Win the War counter-rally in Charlottesville a HUGE success … Cindy Sheehan protested by supporters of troops and More photos from counter-rally)?
A photo made the rounds during Operation Iraqi Freedom that seems appropriate:
Be sure and read all of Mr. Daly’s piece on Master Sergeant Wheeler. Freedom is not free….