Staff Sgt. Chad Caldwell, 24, was laid to rest yesterday. He was killed by a roadside bomb April 30 on his third tour of duty in Iraq.
Sgt. Caldwell was a native of Cheney, WA, a town of around 10,000 a short 17 miles southwest of Spokane. We have one of those flags too, now that Hub's parents are gone. It was for his brother, a native of a small Montana town. He died in a head on with a semi hauling hay as he returned home from a reserve meeting. He served a tour in Vietnam and, too, was decorated.
Both men, I should think are equally missed and honored. Both were casualties of war, each in their own way. One died in battle. One survived the field combat only to become the victim of the indifference and scorn and all that accompanied it that greeted too many vets of a bygone war.
Much is being said in defense of continuing the war in Iraq so as to not diminish those who gave the ultimate sacrifice. I got to thinking about the continuing parade of these young men and women who gave their lives in Iraq and Afghanistan. And about those who have returned alive but hardly well.
I've gotten mighty weary of being scolded about how we must honor and support these men and women. I can't think of a civilian in this country who does not. I'd rather see the military and the administration take a good long look at themselves and their policies and remind them of their responsibilities to these men and women!
They can start by providing better equipment faster, providing the best health care possible, and passing a GI bill that will allow those soldiers who choose not to remain in the military a way of bettering themselves.
One thing the hometowns of these men and women can do, other than tie yellow ribbons around trees, is to elect people to Congress who feel the same. No one has to tell us we can be against the war and for the troops. We know that.
Extricating ourselves from this war is not going to be easy, regardless of what the politicians who also want to end it tell us. I think we are aware of that. But it is up to us to send that message loud and clear to those at the top that we expect them to do everything in their power to make it happen. It's an issue talked about a lot on the national level. Perhaps the best way to emphasize the point is hold our local candidates feet to the fire and make sure they are in agreement with the way we feel!
It's too late for Sgt. Caldwell. It's too late for my brother-in-law. How many more may it be too late for if we don't?