Be thankful for soldiers willing to serve country

Published 6:00 am Tuesday, November 20, 2007

It is with great trepidation The DAILY LEADER staff threw agoing away party this past week for one of our longtime staffwriters Scott Tynes.

Scott leaves us not for another newspaper or journalisticventure, but to serve his country with a nine-month tour ofAfghanistan.

This will be Scott’s second tour of duty. His first tour wasduring Operation Desert Storm in 1990 where he was part of theforces invading Iraq and freeing occupied Kuwait. This second tourtakes him to the mountains of Afghanistan, the center of a conflictthat is overshadowed by the war in Iraq but ever much part of thewar on terror.

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Scott came to me a little over a year ago to ask my thoughts onhis rejoining his National Guard unit. He wanted my blessing, forit meant he would have to spend time with his unit on monthlydrills and two weeks every summer, and it would take time away fromhis reporting duties here at the LEADER. I asked him if it meant hecould go to Iraq? His response, “possibly.”

Earlier this summer as part of his National Guard training hespent time in Honduras, which he later documented for our readerswith photos and stories. He wrote an excellent piece that gave aglimpse of what our troops face in their efforts to protect andserve the citizens of this country.

About a month ago, Scott received a call informing him that hisunit was being activated in January for a March deployment.

As it is in the military, his January activation was moved up bysix weeks. He was called up early to help make supply and otherpreparations in advance of next year’s actual deployment.

Last week Scott wrote a column on his thoughts on Veterans Dayand discussed the reasons soldiers are willing to stand up fortheir country and put themselves into harm’s way. He wrote aboutthe differences between the Mideast Muslim culture and our ownculture and the difficulties that brings – interesting thoughtsfrom someone who has been there and has volunteered to go back.

It is easy in this day of instant communications and 24-hournews to ignore bad news. It is easy to switch a channel or not readan unpleasant newspaper story. It is easy to ignore this war andwish it would go away or that some politician would simply sign anorder and tell everyone to come home.

Regardless if one supports the war in Iraq or the politicianswho use the war as fodder to mold public opinion; regardless if youagree with conservative Republicans or liberal Democrats;regardless if you agree or disagree with why we went there in thefirst place, the fact remains that we are there because we wereprovoked. We were provoked by the attack on the World Trade Centerand provoked by saber-rattling of an unstable dictator who thumbedhis nose at the rest of the world. We were provoked by Islamicextremists who care little for anyone but those who share theirreligious views.

Scott wrote in his column, “In the end I suppose it doesn’tmatter why we fought. What matters is that when American citizensneeded them most, soldiers have always been there to answer thecall to protect us from the volatile threats of those who seek todestroy us.”

While our thoughts and prayers will be with Scott and his familyover the next year, we too are very thankful for him and thethousands of young Americans like him who understand the importanceand are willing to be there when this country needs them themost.

Godspeed, Scott. We look forward to seeing you in 2009.

Write to Bill Jacobs at P.O. Box 551, Brookhaven MS 39602,or send e-mail to