Up the road from here at Fort Bragg a 47 year old Special Forces Sgt. received the Army's second-highest award for valor, the Distinguished Service Cross, for his actions during a 17-hour battle in Afghanistan. He was humbled by this award presentation last week and his local paper over in Fayetteville, NC has the story here. By the way, this presentation came 40 years after Sgt. O'Connor's father was killed in Vietnam when American hero Sgt. Brendan O'Connor was 7.
When you hear some politician or TV thumb-sucker going on about the "kids" in our all volunteer force-- an attempt to make them sound like helpless victims-- think about Sgt. O'Connor. He was a "kid" 40 years ago when his father gave the last full measure of devotion for his country in Southeast Asia. He was a man serving us all as part of Operation Enduring Freedom.
And guess what, the 20 year olds serving in Operation Iraqi Freedom, OEF, and elsewhere are men and women too. They are somebody's children, sure as hell, but they ain't little kids.
UPDATE: I use the term "all volunteer force" above because, well, that's what today's US military is. But in "Moment of Truth In Iraq" by Michael Yon he writes about our senior-enlisted soldier in Iraq, Command Sergeant Major Jeffrey Mellinger. If you use the term "all volunteer army" in Mellinger's presence he'll respond, "Like hell it is." You see, CSM Mellinger has been in the US military continuously for over 35 years and entered as a draftee. Learning that knocked me out. See, I'm pretty old and the draft ended before I turned 18 years old-- although we still had the selective service lottery just in case. To this day I remember my lottery number. By the way, CSM Mellinger has done about 2 and a half tours in OIF.