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Tom Sileo's op-ed column on the Unknown Soldiers. The Courage to Lead
ATLANTA--Paul Sears of Apache Junction, Ariz., lost his son, Marine Lance Cpl. Niall Coti-Sears,
"It's been a complete blur," Sears said about the painful weeks since his son was killed. "To me, it just happened yesterday."
To many military families, Afghanistan is a war that dictates nearly every moment of their lives. But to many politicians, Afghanistan is a war of a bygone era, launched by a previous president after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. With thousands of brave Americans still serving, sacrificing, and suffering in Afghanistan, many of our nation's leaders and would-be leaders are often silent.
While some political strategists justify President Barack Obama, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, and other candidates declining to frequently address Afghanistan because the war is unpopular in current polls, I ask whether past leaders like Presidents John F. Kennedy or Ronald Reagan would have shied away from frank discussions about such a crucial issue.
I am not a historian or political scientist. But the thought of Kennedy or Reagan putting popularity ahead of patriotism is almost ridiculous.
Yes, anyone can scour the Internet and find quotes from Obama and Romney about Afghanistan. The president made honoring our troops a part of his acceptance speech at the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C., while his Republican challenger spoke about the military's heroism during a Sept. 11 speech in Reno, Nev.
But anyone paying even casual attention to the 2012 election cycle knows Afghanistan is mostly invisible on the campaign trail. Thousands of U.S. troops are fighting in mountains, deserts and remote forward-operating bases, yet their sacrifices are rarely highlighted by their next commander in chief.