It has been 18 years, and to put that into perspective, today’s high school seniors will have no memory of those events. Many were yet to be born. Even now, as the Trump Administration works to wind down the war in Afghanistan — America’s longest war — it should be noted those high school seniors have only known a nation at war.
It is far too easy to become desensitized to that fact as we struggle through our daily lives. Some 14,000 U.S. service members are currently in Afghanistan, with the Defense Department reporting an American soldier died during a combat operation as recently as Thursday, Aug. 29, the third in just over a week’s span. CBS News reports more than 2,400 U.S. service members have died in Afghanistan since the U.S.-led invasion in late 2001. Many more have come back bearing scars, both physical and mental.
And we have been reminded more than once this summer of the alarming level of cancer deaths among first responders and investigators exposed to toxins in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks.
Many were lost that day. Many were lost in the wars that followed. Many carry the wounds of the intervening years, and those who perpetrated that evil still reach out to take from us today.
We owe it to those who gave so much of themselves to care for their injuries and preserve their legacies.