News from the Tennessee Valley Opinion


Local death reminder we must evaluate war

Jon-Erik Loney, 21, died in Iraq on Tuesday. The heartache his death caused for his family and the Hartselle and Danville communities is overwhelming.

Mr. Loney died for us. An Army soldier, he was our representative in a hostile place. Multiply the sadness surrounding Mr. Loney's death by 2,883, the number of U.S. soldiers to die in the war so far, and you get a small sense of the sadness the Iraq War has brought to America.

Do Mr. Loney's death, the deaths of his 2,882 colleagues and the maiming of tens of thousands more prove we should pull out of Iraq? No. Do they prove the invasion of Iraq was a mistake? No.

They do mean, however, that we cannot wear the blinders of political partisanship in evaluating our ongoing efforts in Iraq. Our children are dying there. Democrat and Republican, liberal and conservative, they are succumbing to the relentless attacks of people consumed with hatred, people who believe we have intruded their homeland.

If the Nov. 7 election sent a mandate, it was that the American people are sick of politics overriding the lives of their children. We do not demean Mr. Loney by questioning our strategy in the Middle East. We do not demean him by forecasting future deaths and determining whether the national benefit served by those deaths is worth the price.

Political rhetoric has no place when our children are dying. Maybe the price they pay is worth the benefit we receive, but we best honor their lives by confronting the issue squarely.

The issue is no longer whether Mr. Loney's life should have been sacrificed for his country's interests in Iraq. A fallen hero, he is gone.

The issue now is whether tomorrow's deaths are worth the cost.

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