With a number of U.S. troops scheduled to come home by year's end, many military families are looking forward to an extra special Christmas. The homecoming for Spc. James R. Burnett Jr., however, came all too soon.
On Nov. 16, Burnett was killed by a roadside bomb in Kandahar Province, Afghanistan. The 21-year-old, who is the first Stoddard County soldier killed during Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan, left behind many grieving family members and a fiance.
During a memorial ceremony last month, Burnett's stepmother, Sherry Burnett, said, "November 16 will forever be remembered as the day our hero was deployed to heaven. He will forever be in our thoughts. His memory will live on in our minds forever. We will always love him, and we will always be very proud of him."
The men and women in the armed forces sacrifice numerous comforts that we all too often take for granted. Long days, harsh conditions and extended deployments face these individuals. Many who have been severely wounded, even while in the hospital recovering, express their desire to return to the battlefield to support their comrades. Others, like Spc. James R. Burnett Jr., have made the ultimate sacrifice. These individuals and their families have our utmost respect and are true profiles in courage.
Our prayers go out to the Burnett family and the many soldiers fighting for our freedoms.