Nearly 3,000 lives were lost in our nation’s worst Day of Infamy, Sept. 11, 2001, a sneak attack on our homeland that took a greater toll than the 1945 bombing of Pearl Harbor by imperial Japan.
Al-Qaida has paid. Many of the terrorist organization’s top leaders have been captured and killed. Mastermind Osama bin Laden paid the ultimate price on May 2 when a team of Navy SEALs entered his compound hideaway in Pakistan and terminated him.
There have been many victories in the fight for freedom from tyranny and oppression in Iraq and Afghanistan. A fledgling democratic government is struggling through its formative stages in Iraq, thanks to our troops ending Saddam Hussein’s reign of terror. In Afghanistan, America and its allies are holding the terrorists at bay and trying to foster a democratic government in the face of great challenges. The victories cannot lessen the terrible price paid by our service men and women in the battlefields and the highways and byways of those countries.
Today, we remember the great sacrifice of lives and the debilitating injuries and emotional scars that so many gallant veterans will carry for the rest of their days, reminded constantly of the price they have paid for their country.
There have been nearly 5,000 Americans killed in combat in the war on terrorists and 1,303 killed in other incidents for a total of 6,280. Nearly 42,000 of our military men and women have been wounded, many with tragic loss of limbs.
Statistics cannot tell the human suffering. But our honored dead are not faceless. They are not nameless. Their loved ones know their names and cherish the memory of their faces, their laughter and their touch and know the loss, the aching empty places in their hearts and lives. It all came close to home last week here in Cobb when hundreds of people turned out to pay their respects to Kennesaw’s own 1st Lt. Jonathan P. Walsh, 28, a member of the famed 82nd Airborne Division of the U.S. Army, killed by an explosive device in Afghanistan on April 22. He left behind his wife, Debbra, son Austin, his parents and many friends.
To them and to all who have lost loved ones in the wars, we owe our heartfelt gratitude and sympathy. On this day we give thanks for every fallen defender of liberty in the War on Terror and all the other wars fought to keep us free. Let us never forget the sacrifices of those who gave their lives, for if we forget, we shall put our freedom at risk.
A sign outside a Kennesaw barber shop had a message for Lt. Walsh. It is singularly apropos today: “From a grateful nation and a heartbroken community…You will be missed.”