General Urges Americans to Pay Attention to War in Afghanistan

General who lost son in Afghanistan wants Americans to pay attention to war.

ByReporter's Notebook By Martha Raddatz
March 02, 2011, 10:21 AM

March 2, 2011 -- The United States is nearly ten years into the war in Afghanistan and has been at war in Iraq since 2003. But while there are thousands of American soldiers, most of them young, overseas and on the front lines, most Americans are barely affected.

Sixty percent of Americans, according to an ABC News/Washington Post Poll last year don't even think the war was forth fighting.

But for the men and women in the military, war is the top issue every single day.

That is why a line in the fine piece by Greg Jaffe in The Washington Post just kills me:

"I then did the most difficult thing I've done in my life. I walked upstairs, woke Karen to the news and broke her heart."

The man speaking is Lt. Gen. John Kelly of the U.S. Marine Corps. He is telling the reporter about the morning he received word that his "boy," 29-year-old Robert, was killed in Afghanistan. Karen is Lt. Gen. Kelly's wife and Robert's mother.

Can you imagine? Probably not. As Kelly himself points out, fewer than one percent of Americans are serving in uniform despite the fact we have been at war now in Afghanistan for nearly ten years.

This story hit me especially hard today because I had just spoken to a group of senior military officers and their spouses about how Americans do not seem to be engaged in these wars at all, and that the gap between civilians and the military is growing every day.

But Gen. Kelly and his wife only shared their story to help others understand what military families go through, and hope that Americans pay attention.

"We are only one of 5,500 American families who have suffered the loss of a child in this war," Kelly told the Post. "The death of my boy simply cannot be made to seem any more tragic than the others."

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