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A war, a dad, and a hero page 3
Photograph provides food for thought on war, and the love between a father and son

 Sgt. Calvin Summerville embraces his son Jeffrey, 12, before getting on a charter bus that will take him to Fort Dix, N.J. From there, he will likely go to Iraq.
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Date published: 3/18/2007

By Richard Amrhine


Two presidential candidates, Sen. John McCain, the Arizona Republican and former Vietnam prisoner of war, and Sen. Barrack Obama, the Illinois Democrat, have apologized for saying that lives of 3,100 U.S. troops have been wasted in Iraq. Both later said they meant to say "sacrificed," but Americans will use their own judgment.

For many Americans, a soldier in battle is a soldier in battle, following orders and courageously risking his life. As you stroll through a national cemetery, does it really matter whether the death date on the headstone is 1863, 1917, 1944, 1951, 1968, 1991 or 2007? They served, they died, and they'll be remembered proudly for their roles in U.S. history.

The Vietnam experience left a generation of Americans with an aversion to war. Their willingness to accept the challenge in Iraq was contingent on it not descending into quagmire, which it did some time ago.

Even without weapons of mass destruction, or evidence of any Iraqi role in Sept. 11, Americans mourn the loss of American lives in Iraq, not the waste of lives--even if the terminology does serve as anti-Bush rhetoric.

We understand now how woefully unprepared we were to fight this "new kind of war." And we object to the president's plan to put additional troops in harm's way.

We have been down this road before. We want the dad in the photograph to return home not in a box, but rather to share the future with his son and family.

Perhaps the most shameful element of this war is our failure to prepare suitable living and convalescing conditions for the returning wounded. As with Katrina, we are as ill-prepared for the aftermath as we were for the event itself.

Those who have supported the Bush administration in the past must now acknowledge that it is completely devoid of decency or vision.

Richard Amrhine is a writer and editor with The Free Lance-Star.

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