Saluting civilians who support the troops

Published 7:16 pm Thursday, June 3, 2004

By Staff
Arthur McLean
On the eve of Memorial Day, we've rightly been reminded of the soldiers who've given their lives protecting freedom around the world.
Even more poignant, Saturday bore witness to the long overdue unveiling of the World War II memorial in Washington D.C. It is a monument nearly 60 years in coming, not a moment too soon.
But I'd like to remind everyone of other people who serve their country outside of the armed forces. Over the years, untold millions have given of their time to support our country's military and peace efforts around the world. They've served in organizations as varied as the Red Cross and the USO.
Others work for companies, with good pay, but give up their life of relative safety and security to go overseas and help a war-torn nation and people reclaim their lives.
In Iraq and Afghanistan today, we are trying to rebuild war-torn nations. Thousands of American civilians are serving overseas repairing roads, bridges and the infrastructure that supports modern life.
But we seem to hear little of that. We hear of the roadside bombs, and we hear of the men and women who die. We hear of the unrest in the "streets" of the Middle East. We hear the calls for death to the invaders.
Lost somewhere in all of that, is the work bringing water to homes and villages; of roads cleared of Iraqi and Taliban mines; increased medical care in places that had little before.
No, it's not perfect, but we hear so little about it, it's easy to think that it's not happening at all.
I was speaking to a good friend the other night who had lost sight of that fact. "There's no plan to get the country put back together," he said of the situation in Iraq. I was shocked to hear such a statement coming from someone whom I know to keep informed.
As we saw all too clearly with the news of Nick Berg's gruesome death recently, our civilians can be in harm's way as well.
This memorial day weekend, let's not forget to remember the brave men and women who have given their lives in service to country over the years, and let's say an extra prayer for the civilians trying to help the people of a foreign land.
Arthur McLean is the editor of the Atmore Advance. He can be reached by calling 368-2123, or by email:

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