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Godspeed, Sgt. Jeffers - Young Patriot Lost in Iraq

It is with great sadness that we learn of the death of Sgt. Eddie Jeffers, US Army. Sgt. Jeffers died in an accidental vehicle rollover in Ramadi Wednesday. Sgt. Jeffers' friend Frank Salvato reflects on The Death of a Soldier...The Life of a Patriot.

Patriotism, heroism, is providing the protection so that others can freely voice dissent and participate in politics. A patriot takes up the banner of devotion to our country dedicating himself to the principles and ideology that make up its foundation. A hero has the courage to defend those principles, that ideology, so that others may enjoy liberty.

At 7am on September 19, 2007 in Ramadi, Iraq, on a sweltering Iraqi summer day, a good friend whom I knew but never met, a true American patriot and a hero died. US Army Sergeant Eddie Jeffers died in the service of our country, fighting the enemy on Iraqi soil so that we don’t have to fight them on ours. He died protecting the innocent among the Iraqis so that they might benefit from the same principles and ideology that afford us the freedom to even consider debating the legitimacy of the conflict in which he fought.

Sgt. Jeffers challenged America with Hope Rides Alone.

America has lost its will to fight. It has lost its will to defend what is right and just in the world. The crazy thing of it all is that the American people have not even been asked to sacrifice a single thing. It’s not like World War II, where people rationed food and turned in cars to be made into metal for tanks. The American people have not been asked to sacrifice anything. Unless you are in the military or the family member of a servicemember, its life as usual...the war doesn't affect you.

But it affects us. And when it is over and the troops come home and they try to piece together what's left of them after their service...where will the detractors be then? Where will the Cindy Sheehans be to comfort and talk to soldiers and help them sort out the last couple years of their lives, most of which have been spent dodging death and wading through the deaths of their friends? They will be where they always are, somewhere far away, where the horrors of the world can't touch them. Somewhere where they can complain about things they will never experience in their lifetime; things that the young men and women of America have willingly taken upon their shoulders.

We are the hope of the Iraqi people. They want what everyone else wants in life: safety, security, somewhere to call home. They want a country that is safe to raise their children in. Not a place where their children will be abducted, raped and murdered if they do not comply with the terrorists demands. They want to live on, rebuild and prosper. And America has given them the opportunity, but only if we stay true to the cause and see it to its end. But the country must unite in this endeavor...we cannot place the burden on our military alone. We must all stand up and fight, whether in uniform or not. And supporting us is more than sticking yellow ribbon stickers on your cars. It's supporting our President, our troops and our cause.

Right now, the burden is all on the American soldiers. Right now, hope rides alone. But it can change, it must change. Because there is only failure and darkness ahead for us as a country, as a people, if it doesn't.

His challenge stands in his absence. Godspeed, Sgt. Jeffers. We stand in your debt.

Sgt. Jeffers' family asks that, should you be moved to do so, a donation in his name to the Fisher House would be appreciated. Because, like Fisher House, "Eddie always took care of his men."