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As a citizen of the U.S. and a soldier of our armed forces, I recognize the important sacrifice, commitment and dedication to our country our forefathers have made and those our young soldiers today have made in order to support and defend our Constitution and all of the values and virtues contained therein ("Retire war memorials to enhance the Mall," Perspectives, April 18).

Idealistically, the wars we as a nation have entered were to maintain freedom, to uphold our own democracy and to provide a better quality of life for generations to come. Many fine men and women made the ultimate sacrifice, and we as a country have changed the history of our Earth and mankind forever through these conflicts.

I will not deny that a great deal of healing is done at these memorials. I will not forget the day I walked with my father to the Vietnam War memorial and the moment he found the name of his fallen comrade among the tens of thousands of other names. This was the only time in my life I saw him cry.

Yes, these are places of healing; however, wars, battles, conflicts and, most importantly, memories do not carry an expiration date. Webster’s Dictionary defines a memorial as "something that keeps remembrance alive." The meaning and definition of a memorial has not changed.

These memorials and monuments are an inspiring dedication to remember history; a commemorative to pass on to our younger generations to demonstrate to our children’s children that once upon a time, great men did great things; and that they, in turn, could and should strive to continue such a legacy. Let us not forget ourselves, our devotion, or whom we are as a people by "unbuilding" the history of the United States.

First Lt. Robert BreitmanContingency Operating Base Taji, Iraq


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