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March 21, 2013 7:25 am

EDITORIAL: Iraq war anniversary provides solemn reminder

Written by Ilene Olson

The anniversary observed in the United States on Tuesday was a solemn one, not a joyous one.

March 19 marked the 10th anniversary of the start of the war in Iraq, also known as Operation Iraqi Freedom, on March 19, 2003. Just two days after the war began, Lt. Shane Childers of Powell became the first casualty of the war as he helped lead the charge, suddenly making the war halfway across the world feel very close and very personal.

That was the start of a war that lasted nearly nine years, claimed the lives of 4,409 American service members and wounded 31,925, according to a Feb. 5 Congressional Research Service report.

Fifteen service members from Wyoming were among the casualties. Per capita, only Vermont and Montana had higher military death rates during Operation Iraqi Freedom.

The last American troops left Iraq on Dec. 18, 2011. But the pain continues for those who were left behind by the death of loved ones and for service members and their families who still are struggling with lasting effects from physical injuries and psychological trauma.

In a statement on Tuesday, President Barack Obama said it is important to continue to remember and help those who served during the war, to ensure that Americans wounded in Iraq get the care and benefits they deserve, including college educations through the GI Bill, and to support and honor military families.

“Here at home, our obligations to those who served endure,” he said.

A good example of that was set recently in Powell when Steve Walker worked with Floyd Young and NWC Foundation Director Shelby Wetzel to fulfill Walker’s vision of creating a scholarship fund in honor of Command Sgt. Maj. Kevin Griffin. Griffin, a former Northwest College student and wrestler, was killed in Afghanistan in August in Operation Enduring Freedom. Scholarships in Griffin’s honor will be awarded annually to a veteran or a wrestler studying at Northwest, with the first scholarship awarded next year.

Griffin’s family and friends have expressed gratitude for remembering him and for providing educational opportunities in his honor.

Other local examples, such as Powell Troop Support, also show how individuals and groups can make a difference for service members and veterans.

Let’s all remember to thank service members, veterans and their families for their willingness to serve and sacrifice — and to do what we can to honor that service.

1 Comment

  • Comment Link March 21, 2013 2:41 pm posted by Salty Dawg

    Vietnam lasted a lot longer and claimed many more lives than Bush & Cheney's war based on lies.Why no mention of the 50th anniversary of Vietnam?

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