As of tonight we have no combat troops in Iraq.
This is not going to be a political rah-rah post. I don't feel rah-rah, I can tell you that.
As I scanned the email that arrived with the news, the thing that jumped out at me was this phrase, "more than 4,400 Americans have given their lives." I hope we can all let that sink in, deeply, into our souls, into our beings, and never forget what it means.
Over the last seven years we've heard such numbers bandied about by politicians of all persuasions to make whatever point they wanted to make at the time. It's awfully easy to forget those numbers represent people - real people - with moms and dads, spouses, children, brothers and sisters, grandmas and grandpas, cousins, friends, classmates and coworkers.
More than 1.5 million of those real people were actively involved in the war. Expand their circles outward and see how many lives were touched by separation. There are very few of us who can say we don't know someone who was serving - if not in our own family, in that of a coworker or neighbor. Many of us can tick off the names of multiple people.
I'm not going to get into the question of if it was good or bad, justified or not. The time for that is past.
I just hope we can all be mindful that those numbers are not just arithmetic. They represent real people making real sacrifices - ranging from separation and worry to the loss of life. These are not things to be taken lightly.
So, I beg that we all remember that while today may mark the removal of combat troops in Iraq, soldiers are still in harm's way. And they're all real people with far-reaching connections to friends and loved ones. Let us be mindful of that whenever we are tempted to engage in conflict. Let us be mindful. Please. Please, let us be mindful.