Magazine article VFW Magazine

Holiday Remembrances

Magazine article VFW Magazine

Holiday Remembrances

Article excerpt

When tragedy strikes, Americans rally. But that same sense of support is required year-- round for those defending the nation.

The tragedy aboard the destroyer Cole was a wake-up call to us all that daily Americans are at risk overseas protecting our national interests. They do so most often behind the scenes and with little or no public recognition. It's unfortunate that it takes such an event to bring their sacrifices to our attention.

As you know, on Oct. 12, 17 sailors of the USS Cole were killed in a terrorist explosion while the ship was moored in the Gulf of Aden off Yemen. They were the latest U.S. casualties in the ongoing war of terrorism waged against America by Moslem extremist groups. Also, those 17 Americans have the dubious distinction of being the first of the nation's military personnel killed by hostile action in the 21st century.

As we continue to mourn their loss (please read the article on page 12), we must also be aware that up to 20,000 other servicemen and women face similar dangers in that area. As USA Today put it: "U.S. forces in the Middle East operate in the world's deadliest region and accept risks that would be unthinkable elsewhere."

Indeed, the Mideast, as past experience has demonstrated, is an especially deadly place. Back in June 1996, a truck bomb demolished Khobar Towers in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia, killing 19 U.S. airmen. Less than a year before, five American civilian advisers were killed by a terrorist bomb detonated in that country's capital city.

Despite the vital and perilous military mission in that volatile region, it must be remembered, too, that uniformed Americans serve worldwide: from the Balkans (Bosnia and Kosovo) to the Korean Peninsula and at isolated outposts too remote to rate "mainstream" media coverage. …

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