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Recent deaths of Fort Drum soldiers a reminder of the brutal costs of war

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For many Americans, the ongoing war in Afghanistan has become little more than a distant backdrop to more pressing concerns.

The sluggish economy continues to impact countless individuals and families, who find it difficult to make ends meet. There are not enough jobs to meet the demand of those who are unemployed.

Many local schools are facing financial crises, and our roads and bridges are crumbling right before our eyes. And then there are the incredibly high and numerous taxes that drain household budgets.

That a de-emphasized conflict doesn’t rank high as a priority for a good portion of us is no surprise. Let’s face facts: Many Americans are likely unaware that we remain a nation at war.

This in no way has the feel of a society grappling with the wrenching issues that wars always bring up or the sacrifices that often have to be made to maintain the armed struggles. We certainly don’t live like we did during World War II or the Vietnam War.

But the war in Afghanistan is all too real for the many Americans still fighting it along with their loved ones and friends. The Fort Drum community was given a sober reminder of this last week with news that two soldiers from the 10th Mountain Division died Monday as a result of injuries sustained in separate attacks.

“Pfc. Christian J. Chandler, 20, of Trenton, Texas, died in Baraki Barak District, Logar province, when enemy forces attacked his unit with small-arms fire,” according to a story Thursday in the Watertown Daily Times. “In addition, the [Department of Defense] confirmed the death of Sgt. Shawn M. Farrell II, 24, of Accord [N.Y.], who died in Germany after an attack on his unit in Nejrab District, Kapisa province.”

While there is talk in Washington about possibly withdrawing all U.S. troops from Afghanistan by the end of the year, in reality we have no clue when our participation in this conflict will draw to a close. No one can state definitively what victory in Afghanistan is supposed to resemble, at least enough of a win for us to pull out permanently. Sadly, suspicions that we would embroil ourselves in a trap from which we could never escape are looking more accurate.

We as Americans will commemorate Memorial Day in three weeks, a time to pay tribute to those who have lost their lives in military service to our country. However the society in Afghanistan is ultimately going to look, we must work vigorously toward the goal of ensuring that no more names are added to the list of war dead.

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