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Amarillo Globe News: Honor vets with words and action
WASHINGTON - Veterans Day is a time for Americans to remember and honor those men and women who have bravely served their nation in our armed services. On this day, we are thankful for people like Warren Smith of Wichita Falls and his active-duty grandson. Smith was a gunner mate, third class in the United States Navy during World War II, who helped liberate the Philippines. His grandson is serving in the Navy, having recently returned from the war in Afghanistan.By: Mac Thornberry
WASHINGTON - Veterans Day is a time for Americans to remember and honor those men and women who have bravely served their nation in our armed services. On this day, we are thankful for people like Warren Smith of Wichita Falls and his active-duty grandson. Smith was a gunner mate, third class in the United States Navy during World War II, who helped liberate the Philippines. His grandson is serving in the Navy, having recently returned from the war in Afghanistan.
Back in October, grandfather and grandson spent time together on the U.S.S. Ronald Reagan during the last leg of the aircraft carrier's 2009 deployment as part of Operation Enduring Freedom. This special "Tiger Cruise" is a long-standing Navy tradition that provides a unique chance for family and friends to experience life at sea onboard a U.S. Navy warship.
Smith called his time with his grandson and the sailors of the U.S.S. Reagan an "opportunity of a lifetime." For the Navy, Tiger Cruises are a way to honor seaman for their courage and commitment during deployment. For Mr. Smith and his grandson, it was time to reflect on the sacrifices they made while serving their country in the midst of their fellow sailors whose daily job is to keep our shores secure and help the soldiers and marines deployed to Afghanistan complete their mission.
I am proud to represent families like the Smiths in the 13th District who dedicate their lives to serving our country. And I believe their story should force us to pause and reflect on how best to honor veterans during wartime. After all, our country's commitment to those who serve should be greater than a day-long event. Both men's experience teaches us that while the enemies they fought were different, their mission as members of the military is the same - to defend and protect the United States of America. And because this mission is never truly complete, but we must honor all members of the military - past and present - by providing the resources necessary for them to succeed.
Our country's commitment to our armed forces should be as strong as its commitment to defending us all. This is especially true during this critical time in the war on terrorism. At this moment, the situation in Afghanistan is at a crossroads, and President Obama is currently reviewing options to reinvigorate our military strategy in that country. Gen. Stanley McChrystal counseled President Obama that the best chance for defeating Taliban insurgents, denying al-Qaida a terrorist sanctuary, stabilizing neighboring Pakistan which has nuclear weapons), and ultimately coming home, is to implement a revised strategy that includes a "surge" of additional U.S. forces to Afghanistan. These troops would be used to ensure security for the Afghan people, separate out insurgent forces hiding among the Afghan people, and collect intelligence used to hunt terrorists - all while sending a signal that the U.S. is committed to long-term stability in the region.
At the same time America must not forget about Iraq. Today, the United States is beginning to draw down our presence there. But we must do so cautiously and responsibly. President Obama must remain flexible and willing to redeploy U.S. forces to Iraq if violence levels spike and the Iraqi political process stalls.
Mr. Smith commented that things aboard naval ships are a little different today than when he was in the Pacific many years ago. But, he also noted that the spirit among the sailors was the same from when he served: honor, duty, sacrifice. As we work to complete our work in Iraq and Afghanistan, our strategy should reflect this spirit.
Politicians in Washington often talk about honoring our service men and women and remembering our veterans. But I see no better way for us in Washington to honor the service and sacrifice of U.S. veterans like Warren Smith and his grandson than by showing with our actions and words that we believe in their mission by giving our armed forces all the manpower and tools need to succeed.
Rep. Mac Thornberry, R-Clarendon, serves on the House Armed Services Committee and the House Permanent Committee on Intelligence. He has served in the House since 1995.