BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - Have you given any thought recently to the thousands of men and women serving America in our armed forces?
News about the economy seems to steal most of the headlines these days. But the ongoing war on terror continues to put brave men and women in harm's way every day around the world.
Whatever your politics or feelings about the war, these American troops deserve our support, respect and thanks.
I got a stark reminder of the ongoing military deployments while standing inside the Mississippi Army National Guard armory in Biloxi recently. National Guardsmen in uniform, along with their family members, were attending a ceremony to celebrate a "community covenant" of support.
The agreement basically formalizes the City of Biloxi's ongoing support for these "citizen soldiers" and their commitment in return to be good citizens of Biloxi and the other communities in which we live.
Yes, we are in the process of troop drawdowns in Iraq. But while we may soon see less news footage from Iraq, I suspect Afghanistan will simply take its place in the spotlight of U.S. military presence. President Obama's pledge to pull the troops from Iraq is coupled with his promise that the operations will be stepped up in Afghanistan.
That means the strong likelihood that more and more of our husbands and wives, sisters and brothers, aunts and uncles and best friends will be called to duty overseas. And the very least we can do as Americans is offer a word of thanks.
Most of us know someone who is currently deployed to the war on terror, someone who has been deployed in the past, or someone facing a future assignment overseas. These soldiers become more than "statistics and headlines" when it involves someone we love; when it hits close to home.
And I dare say Mississippi is doing more than her share of supporting the cause. The Mississippi Army National Guard is preparing to send about 3,500 troops to Iraq. Those soldiers I met at the Biloxi armory are among them. They are mechanics and doctors and welders and retail clerks by profession. But they volunteer themselves to wear the uniform for our country. More and more, those so-called "citizen soldiers" are drafted for duty in the war on terror half a world away.
These National Guard troops still respond to disasters and other emergencies closer to home (Katrina comes quickly to mind) but they are also providing backbone and support to the full time military in the ongoing war on terror.
What can we do? We can simply say "thanks" to a soldier we meet in a store, a restaurant or parking lot. Where they serve doesn't much matter. If you wear the uniform, you're just an order away from deploying anywhere the commander in chief sees fit to send the troop.
Let's all say thanks to these men and women, remember them, think of them and pray for them.
Our very freedom could hang in the balance... entrusted to the care and courage of these brave Americans.