Gates says country needs to better recognize soldiers' sacrifices

Thursday - 9/30/2010, 5:29pm EDT

In a speech at Duke University, Defense Secretary Robert Gates told students that the country needs to better understand the service and sacrifices that warfighters and their families make.

The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan "remain an abstraction, a distant and unpleasant series of news items that does not affect them personally," Gates said.

Gates drew a contrast between his audience and their peers deployed overseas: "Instead of wearing J. Crew they wear body armor. Instead of carrying book bags they are carrying assault rifles. And a number of them - far too many- will not come home to their parents."

But the Defense Secretary also stressed the opportunities that can come from military service

With military service comes the opportunity to be given extraordinary responsibility at a young age "not just for lives of troops, but for missions and decisions that may change the course of history," he said.

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