Returning soldiers deserve our thanks

Published 12:00 am Saturday, April 17, 2004

Supporters of the 1087th Transportation Unit of the Louisiana Army National Guard are ready to roll out the red carpet &045;&045; literally &045;&045; when the troops come home.

Family and friends will gather in Alexandria today for the first leg of that homecoming, as the soldiers disembark a plane in their home state for the first time in a year. They were deployed last year in support of the Iraq war.

For the soldiers’ families, it has been a long and anxious year, watching news reports about the violence overseas and praying for the safety of the troops.

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We can only imagine what it has been like for the soldiers themselves, who have endured everything from dust storms to life-threatening attacks.

In a war that has sparked so much dissension, we sometimes forget, though, to reflect on the success of the mission for which these young men and women have been called.

They have supported efforts to bring democracy to a region of the world unfamiliar with the concept.

They have fought against insurgent attacks, but they have also fought to help reopen schools and hospitals, restore basic necessities and bring peace to communities.

The soldiers who return today and those who are still in Iraq fight an uphill battle, but they have not given up the hope that peace and democracy can flourish in a nation which once crushed innocent citizens who dared oppose a tyrannical regime.

The war in Iraq has not been an easy one at home or abroad, but it has not been without success &045;&045; and we praise the returning soldiers for their part in those efforts.