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The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have been going on for a eight and ten years now. With the media's attention concentrated on more sensational current events, we can lose sight of the fact that our young veterans are still serving, getting wounded, and, sadly, dying in those countries.
It is hard to keep focused on these wars going on so far away. They have been going on so long that we have in many cases become numbed to them. You see, it's really only a small number of our citizens who are serving there. Even with their families and friends they are still a very small minority of our total population.
Most of us just go on with our lives, thinking about these servicemen and women when some news story captures our attention again, briefly. We all want these wars to get resolved so that our soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines can come home into the warmth of our hearths, the embrace of our arms. We want them to be successful in their long suffering efforts, too, that in some meaningful way they might bring both liberation and peace to the people of those tortured lands.
Today I'm thinking specifically of Iraq. It is becoming the forgotten war. Our combat mission ended there about nine months ago now, but a Washington state veteran lost his life by way of one of those terrifyingly simple, but terribly deadly roadside bombs. His name was Brandon Hocking. He left behind his parents, five brothers and sisters, a wife and two children. Brandon was loved by them all. They all had worried the whole time he was there, aware that he could be wounded, or worse, die. They did not want to think of that possibility. But the phone call came. It could not be avoided. He had been killed and would not be coming home they way they had hoped and prayed.
We must remember and care for these families. They have lost their most precious treasure. Their loss is felt by all of us. Brandon and his family must be held in our prayers. To the Hocking family, know that you are all in mine.