Unlike Vietnam when our returning soldiers were treated very poorly by the nation they had represented, it does not appear that those returning from Afghanistan will face the same disdain. Yet both groups were left with serious questions about whether their duty, service, and sacrifice were worth something -- especially when the ending was so ignoble. I have no place to speak for the nation but for myself and for those who serve these brave men and women I will offer this.
Your service was noble not simply because the cause was good but because you served your nation. You did not go to battlefields far and near on your own but in service to our nation and for the larger goals of protecting and defending our precious liberty. While politicians and leaders may cloud this purpose with their own misgivings and regrets, these apply not to your service. For that you have cause to be proud. You sacrificed home and family, life and limb, and you acted with honor even when the circumstances made it hard for your to know your purpose clearly, to act with clear resolve for a plain good, and to feel that your actions made a difference. I am honored to know you and to salute your service. You represent our nation in places where they have no image of America but that promoted by Madison Avenue. The fact that so many risked so much to stand in line and find a new life here is testament to your faithful service and good witness to what makes America good. God bless you.
We have, as a nation, had clear demonstrations of threat and injustice and still our people were not sure the cause was worth the sacrifice. Even in the great wars, we entered the fighting reluctantly -- led not by brave voices to rally our cause more than by threats which became so personal and real that we had no choice. That is how war is. We fight because not to fight is the worse choice. Sometimes the victory is clear and clean and we can wave our flag bravely. Sometimes the end is hard to define with the same definition of success but and the purpose and result are seen more clearly in hindsight than with eyes on the ground. No matter. Your faithful service is a credit to you and to the cause of freedom and the pursuit of justice. God bless you.
Those who died in Afghanistan or Iraq or anywhere else in the world we honor with those whose tombstones and anonymous graves mark the great wars of old. Those who wore and wear the uniform we honor in time of peace or conflict or declared war for they are the first defenders of liberty while the nation they serve rests in security at home. Together they testify to the noble virtue of one who fights not for self but for others, not for some personal gain but lofty ideal of freedom. God bless you.