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The Double-Edged Message of Cory Remsburg

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Everyone agreed that the high point of the State of the Union address on Tuesday was the stirring tribute to Army Ranger Cory Remsburg. Remsburg -- sitting next to Michelle Obama -- was was in a coma for three months after being injured by a roadside bomb during his 10th deployment.

Even now, Cory is still blind in one eye. He still struggles on his left side. But slowly, steadily, with the support of caregivers like his dad Craig, and the community around him, Cory has grown stronger. Day by day, he's learned to speak again and stand again and walk again -- and he's working toward the day when he can serve his country again.

"My recovery has not been easy," he says. "Nothing in life that's worth anything is easy."

Cory is here tonight. And like the Army he loves, like the America he serves, Sergeant First Class Cory Remsburg never gives up, and he does not quit.

No one can fail to be awed by, and to appreciate, the sergeant's courage and sacrifice.

But what was he sacrificing for?

The president didn't reflect on questions about America's massive, seemingly never-ending military involvements in Iraq and Afghanistan, the results of each of which is in extreme doubt.

In Iraq:

What Mr. Obama ended was the United States military presence in Iraq, but the fighting did not stop when the last troops left in 2011; it simply stopped being a daily concern for most Americans. While attention shifted elsewhere, the war raged on and has now escalated to its most violent phase since the depths of the occupation.

As Fallujah, which many pointed to as the greatest American triumph in its recent wars, was retaken by Sunni insurgents allied with Al Qaeda, those who fought there wondered at our involvement and the deaths of so many Americans to pacify the city.

As violence returns to Afghanistan too, it now appears that Hamid Karzai feels the best way to succeed after America's involvement is to distance himself -- even to vilify -- the United States.

The president barely mentioned Afghanistan and Iraq in his address to the nation, other than assuring us that we will no longer be fighting in these places.

Today, all our troops are out of Iraq. More than 60,000 of our troops have already come home from Afghanistan. With Afghan forces now in the lead for their own security, our troops have moved to a support role. Together with our allies, we will complete our mission there by the end of this year, and America's longest war will finally be over...

But I will not send our troops into harm's way unless it's truly necessary. ...

And, so, should we conclude that it was necessary, and beneficial, that so many Americans have died, and Cory Remsburg and so many others have been permanently injured and disabled? Making that case takes more than featuring those injured and the relations of the dead from these wars at the SOTU.

Cory Remsburg is so inspirational that the president used him as a beacon for the whole nation: "My fellow Americans, men and women like Cory remind us that America has never come easy. Our freedom, our democracy, has never been easy. Sometimes we stumble; we make mistakes; we get frustrated or discouraged."

But, the president assured us, like Cory Remsburg, we shouldn't be discouraged, presumably as we shouldn't be discouraged by our decade plus, non-stop wars.

Is this fair use of this man's sacrifice?

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