As Eastern Oregon's contribution to the ongoing war in Iraq winds down its training in the desert of Texas, the reality of their sacrifice comes home to all of us here.

These men of the 3rd Battalion, 116th cavalry based in La Grande are the pointy end of our very sharp stick in Iraq. They are headed in harm's way, and no matter your political feelings about their mission, you cannot ignore their commitment to duty.

Some 40 percent of the U.S. troops in Iraq are guard or reservists. These are folks who agreed to train and be ready if they were called. The call has sounded, and they're there.

Their civilian lives, their wives and their children are back here. Warriors from throughout the Columbia Basin are ready to make this battle for personal freedom in a far off place their own.

We can applaud their dedication and appreciate their sacrifice, but even those of us who have gone before in another time, in another war, cannot share their lives at this time in this war.

We can only pray for their safe return. They are the best trained, best equipped fighting force on the planet.

We just want them home, safe. Until that day, we can only wait.

War is, in fact, hell for those who wait as well as those who go.

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