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After nearly a decade of war, it’s easy to become numb to it.

You read the newspaper, you watch the television and it just keeps coming, one day after another until it all runs together. You mourn the dead and you celebrate the victories, but you can’t allow yourself to feel too deeply or it becomes too much. If you’re one of the 99 percent of Americans not actively fighting this country’s battles, war is difficult to understand.

But we must try. We owe it to the 1 percent.

For them, it’s not complicated. It’s not about surges and drawdowns and Capitol Hill bickering. For the men and women who will lace up their boots in Afghanistan or Iraq today, their only goal is to complete the mission and lie down to sleep at night one day closer to coming home.

It’s not easy. Sometimes completing an ordinary mission requires extraordinary heroism. These are the stories you’ll find in the seventh edition of Stars and Stripes’ Heroes special section.

The servicemembers profiled here never sought glory. Though many later received valor medals, they sought only to succeed and survive and to protect the one standing beside them. Most of them made it home safely, some didn’t. Others are still at war today.

To understand, we must know their stories.

We owe it to the 1 percent.

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