Following the attack on the World Trade Center in 2001, the country was in an uproar. It was an easy choice for many to send in the troops, invading Afghanistan. Here we are 11 years later. We’ve fought in Afghanistan. We’ve invaded another country, Iraq. We’re still fighting in Afghanistan. Of course, I say, ‘we’ like it means something more than those who are actually there. I do not believe WE are doing anything of the sort. In fact, when the United States military invaded Afghanistan, I was worried.
The Book of Mormon provides an account of a secret criminal organization and the toll their secret plans had on society. This group called themselves the Gadianton Robbers. Although they were a terrible group with designs that were contrary to the good of the civilization, efforts to eradicate them were nearly impossible. I considered al Qaeda and their friends in the Talaban to be something more akin to the Gadianton Robbers than an organized country we could bring into submission through military force.
Again, here we are 11 years later. The Talaban hasn’t been stomped out and al Qaeda isn’t gone either. We’ve wasted so much blood and money in pursuit of these and others. Now, I fear another problem - the status quo.
We, the American people, have turned our backs on our military. We placate ourselves with yellow ribbons and hallow words of support. Little comfort does this provide the families who’ve lost their sons and daughters, fathers and mothers, sisters and brothers. We have become so used to these great and selfless people fighting in a far away place, against and for a people with whom we haven’t any connection that we’ll hardly give it a second thought. Two months ago, the United States military casualties in the Afghanistan fight exceeded a milestone. More than 2000 soldiers have lost their lives. It was a footnote to an otherwise normal day for those of us living in the United States.
I am reminded again of another account from the Book of Mormon: “But behold, great has been the slaughter among our people; yea, thousands have fallen by the sword, while it might have otherwise been if ye had rendered unto our armies sufficient strength and succor for them. Yea, great has been your neglect towards us.” (Alma 60:3)
Are we not too complacent in the status quo? What have we gained from their sacrifice? How many friends and family have gone into the battle only to give up the most precious possession of all?
I am going to have a hard time sitting in relative comfort Thursday afternoon without remembering all we’ve lost in our pursuit of revenge for the most atrocious foreign attack on United States soil. I worry we’ve grown far too complacent in our lives and we do little more than lip service to support the military. I am grateful for our military, our soldiers and their families. I am grateful for the sacrifices they’ve made for my family, my friends, my country and me. We need to do something more than just talk about how great these young people are. I worry that my gratitude is far too little, it's not enough.