It’s been a little over 12 years since our country came under attack on Sept. 11, 2001. We were attacked by terrorists who wanted to instill fear within the American people, who wanted to change our way of life, and wanted to attack us at our very core. Immediately after the attack, America was closer than ever - we unified, and we vowed to bring those who attacked us to justice. And we did just that.
America united and quickly got to work. Our nation investigated and searched for those responsible. We quickly came to the conclusion that it was the work of Al Qaeda, the terrorists network unknown to most Americans at the time, and led by one of the most evil men who ever lived, Osama Bin Laden. On Oct. 7, 2001, a little over a month after we were attacked, the U.S. military deployed to Afghanistan and began the hunt for Osama bin Laden. Justice was to be served for all the bloodshed, lives lost, and attempt to rid us of our freedom.
We were going to get Bin Laden.
Americans wanted vengeance. They wanted someone to pay for what had happened, for their way of life being disrupted, for the lives lost, and the emotional and mental toll the attacks took on our country. We as a nation stood behind our war fighters. Many young men and women lined up to join the military the day after the attacks, vowing to defend their nation at all costs. They volunteered to put their lives on the line, to fight for you and me - to find the terrorists and stop them cold in their tracks, so we could continue on with our American lives and live free.
On March 20, 2003 the U.S. invaded Iraq. The Bush administration had done several test experiments to see what would happen to the United States if we were attacked with biological weapons. Additionally, Saddam Hussein was harboring Al Qaeda, torturing his own people, and openly conveying he possessed heinous weapons and would use them if need be. Based upon his actions, the U.S. was going to remove Saddam from power and free the Iraqi people from decades of oppression under the ruthless tyrant.
Days went by, which turned into month, and years. Americans started dying and many came home with both physical and invisible wounds. Even with the number of U.S. deaths continuing to rise, we hadn’t seemed to achieve our goals. Faith in achieving them quickly dwindled and support for the wars began to fade. Iraq and Afghanistan were quickly labeled ‘Bush’s Wars.' We were spending billions of dollars, and we just wanted to be ‘Americans’ again without having to worry about the fogs of war.
We wanted to quit.
But the reality was we were at war. We were in two wars and for good reason.
A soldier of the 10 Mountain Division U.S. Army 2nd Battalion 22nd Infantry Regiment walks with a sniffer dog at Afghan National Army Forward Operating Base Muqor in Ghazni province on May 28, 2013. (Getty Images)
And we are still at war - and we must not quit. We must see it through to fruition. Too many lives lost, too many sacrifices have been made, too many service members injured, and too many families broken apart, to give up now.
This is America. We are America. We live in a country that is ruled by the people, of the people, and for the people. We can blame it on our government all we want, but we put them there. We voted them into office to represent us.
They represent YOU.
We are still at war. Those who loved our nation enough to fight FOR you, are still in Afghanistan, because WE sent them there.
Our nation’s leaders decided that Iraq and Afghanistan were just wars - validated enough to dip into our treasuries and give the lives of our youth to defend our way of life and preserve the liberties we so dearly love. They are fighting to protect the symbol of freedom worldwide and defend our borders from another terrorist attack.
We have been at war for over 12 years now. We have had hundreds of thousands of young men and women injured. They find themselves coming home to apathy and discontent for the war that WE sent them to. They walk around with the invisible wounds of war. Many are scared with physical wounds and are unable to get help from the Veterans Administration.
U.S. Army soldiers carry the flag-draped transfer case containing the remains of U.S. Army Pfc. Cody J. Patterson during a dignified transfer at Dover Air Force Base on October 9, 2013 in Dover, Delaware. According to reports, Patterson, who was from Philomath, Oregon, assigned to the 3rd Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment, at Fort Benning, Georgia, was killed while supporting Operation Enduring Freedom - Afghanistan. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
You may not know these people who put their lives on the line for our nation. Most of them are quiet, behind the scenes folks and have come back from hell and just want to live a normal life. They know they did what their country told them to do. They fought valiantly and now they can rest.
And now, after recent events, these men and women have had to watch as Al Qaeda stormed Fallujah and Ramadi, seized the cities and claimed them as their own. They watched these cities – the one’s they lost limbs in, watched fellow brothers and sisters of battle be massacred in, and endured the scars of war in – they watched them be taken over by the very enemy’s hands they pried it out of at the beginning of the war.
They watched and they tried to breathe. They tried to sleep. What did we send them over for? What did those that never made it home die for?
To fight for our freedoms and our way of life. To free the Iraqi people from oppression and to prevent terrorism within our nation’s borders. That is why they fought and died. And that is why it is more important than ever to support our current soldiers who are at war, fighting for the same reason.
As Maj. Mike Mundell said in one of his last correspondences with his wife before he was killed in Iraq, “We must keep the fight contained there, or it will come back here.”
America, I urge you and I beg you: Don’t turn your backs on those who have willingly stepped up to fight and defend you - unless you want to be the one in the fight. Now more than ever we must support and stand behind those who have chosen to protect us.
We must finish what we started; we must never give up, or give in. Ever.
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