Pondering the Decade Since 9/11

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Section 60 at Arlington National Cemetery is reserved for U.S. military personnel killed in Afghanistan and Iraq / Air Force photo by Gina Chiaverotti-Paige

The news of the shooting down of a Chinook with 30 U.S. troops, mostly Special Forces, dead is chilling.

With the 10th anniversary of 9/11/2001 fast approaching, it heightens the sacrifices of the military, as President Obama recently remarked.

I often think that we—we being both the military and the nation—have not really stopped to pause and reflect on the incredible changes that we have been through.

Long wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Thousands killed in combat, many more wounded. Families worried about their loved ones in combat, or caring for those disabled by blasts. Continual unrest in the Horn of Africa with pirates and famine.  Security check points everywhere, of course.

In my part of the world, the line between DC and Maryland, the amputees in wheelchairs enjoying the sun and fountain at the Silver Spring Farmers Market. Before their next surgery.

In Dover, the Office of the Armed Forces Medical Examiner autopsying the deceased and preparing their bodies for burial.

Slightly south, at Arlington Cemetery, laying them to rest, with the bugle notes constantly playing TAPS.

A million vets without jobs. The elevated rates of suicide and other violence among veterans.  Thousands of families who no longer have vets, due to combat and suicide.

No easy recommendations to make here. Except, maybe, 10 years later, it is time for us to take a collective breath, and think about where 9/11 has taken us as a military and as a nation.

Are we where we want to be?