Editorial: Worthy of being called American heroes

Members of the Louisiana National Guard

have proved themselves to be worthy of being called American heroes.

Family, friends

and Gov. Bobby Jindal last week said their final farewells to one

of them, Specialist Chris Drake of Tickfaw, the 41st member

of the state National Guard to make the supreme sacrifice during

the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

“To our children, to our young ones, we

live in a culture that honors people for being famous,” Jindal said.

“We look up to

people who are famous just because they are famous. I want to

encourage you to use Chris as an example, as a role model, as

a hero for you.”

The Advocate said the hundreds of people who gathered to celebrate Drake’s life were told not to mourn, but to celebrate his

life and accomplishments.

“We are not here for ourselves,” said

Capt. Page Brooks, a chaplain with the state National Guard. “We are

here to honor Christopher

and the sacrifice that he has made for his community, for his

family, for the state of Louisiana, for his country.”

Drake was killed when his vehicle was hit by a rocket-propelled grenade on May 26. The Times-Picayune said he is the third

Louisiana National Guard soldier to die in Afghanistan.

The newspaper said during the last 12 years of war the conflict in Iraq has “proved to be far deadlier to the Louisiana National

Guard, accounting for 85 percent (35) of its dead.”

The death toll in the Iraq war is

higher because more National Guard troops were mobilized for that

conflict. The Times-Picayune

said of the 41 Guard casualties, 30 of those troops were assigned

to the 256th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, a unit that was

deployed twice to Iraq. Late 2004 through late 2005 is described

as one of the deadlier periods for U.S. troops in Iraq.

Six Louisiana soldiers died Jan. 6, 2005, in what the newspaper said was the largest single-day loss for the state since the

Korean War.

Louisiana’s overall military death toll in the two wars is 135. That number includes soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines

who have died since Sept. 11, 2001.

In Iraq, the U.S. lost 4,486 service members between the March 2003 invasion and last year, The Times-Picayune said. The U.S.

death toll in Afghanistan since 2001 totals 2,235. The death toll this year is 61, and 22 of them died in May.

One death is one too many, and many Americans look forward to the day when all of the troops will either be home or in safe

surroundings wherever they are stationed. Meanwhile, we must never forget the sacrifices like those made by Drake and the

others. They volunteered so that the rest of us could use feel safer in a world that will never be totally secure as long

as the war on terror continues.

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This editorial was written by a member of the American Press Editorial Board. Its content reflects the collaborative opinion of the Board, whose members include Bobby Dower, Jim Beam, Crystal Stevenson and Donna Price.