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Our Soldiers Need Allies At Home

As published in the Boston Harold Deputy Secretary of Defense Gordon R. England, Washington, DC, Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Boston Herald 4 July 2007

Our Soldiers Need Allies At Home

Alexander Milley was a U.S. Marine during World War II and landed with the 4th Marine Division on Iwo Jima. He also saw combat in amphibious landings at Tinian, Saipan and Kwajalein. He is the reason we refer to him and his band of brothers as the Greatest Generation.

Meeting Alexander caused me to remember my first experience with the military. I learned about the sacrifices for freedom as a 7-year-old growing up in Baltimore in 1945. At the small square of grass where streets came together, and where we kids played, a sign was erected that read: Francis Callahan Jr. Square. That night, I learned from my mom that the Callahan family lived in one of the houses on the square, and that their son was a Marine who was killed on Iwo Jima.

Francis Callahan Jr. and thousands like him gave their lives so that I, and all Americans, could live the lives we have lived. Throughout our history as a nation, there have been and continue to be people like Francis Callahan Jr. and Alexander Milley who have fought to preserve our independence, freedom and way of life.

A lesson of prior wars and from the conflict facing the nation today is that the courage and honor of Francis Callahan Jr. and Alexander Milley need to be matched by the resolve, commitment and determination of America’s political leadership. Ultimately, success in any war is about political will. It’s about leadership, looking beyond the rhetoric of the present and boldly addressing the long-term threats to our nation.

John Stuart Mill, an English economist and philosopher, explained it appropriately in 1862: "War is an ugly thing, but not the ugliest of things. The decayed and degraded state of moral and patriotic feeling which thinks that nothing is worth war is much worse."

As this Independence Day dawns, it’s important that Americans remember the lessons of the past and never forget the service of Francis Callahan Jr. and Alexander Milley and those like them. Valor and sacrifice like theirs, and sustained national resolve, are the best possible guarantee of an American life of freedom and liberty for our children and grandchildren.

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