Do you know someone fighting on the front lines in Iraq or Afghanistan? How about a family in your town that has a loved one serving? Legendary newsman Tom Brokaw says if you can't say yes to one of these questions, then you don't really care about the war or the men and women who are fighting in it. Tom says what concerns him most is that people don't think about the sacrifices that these brave soldiers and their families are making for our freedom.
The current wars in Afghanistan and Iraq are the longest in United States history—longer than World War II and Vietnam. Tom says it's not just the length of time that has made these current wars different than past ones—it's our country's level of engagement. He says World War II united our country in an effort to save the world, and while we were deeply divided during Vietnam, the whole country was still very aware about what was happening. Today's wars are not something the typical American thinks about every day, and according to Tom, "less than 1 percent of the American population is bearing 100 percent of the burden of battle."
"I, as a political reporter, believe very strongly that this democratic republic cannot have something that involves our blood and treasure assigned to only a very small part of our population, and nothing else is asked of the rest of us," Tom says. "That’s not just unjust. In a way, it's immoral."
Tom says we all have to "re-enlist as citizens." That means raising our consciousness about the wars—to think about the men and women who are fighting every day and losing their lives—and also to do something about it.
"However you feel about the war and the appropriateness of it, you must honor these people and their families," Tom says.