Today marks the 11th anniversary of the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, in which thousands of American citizens were murdered by fanatical terrorists.

The people who lost their lives in those attacks, as well as those lost in the wars initiated in the aftermath, should never be forgotten. They should be honored as casualties of a war against what America stands for: individual liberty and freedom.

We should never forget the level of patriotism that was shared nationwide, by all citizens. We rallied together and comforted each other in a time of loss and fear for so many, and then we sent our warriors off to avenge what had taken place.

But we would be remiss if we did not acknowledge that the same pride and patriotism that we exhibit when memorialize our fallen and send our children off to war also demands that we analyze our responsibility when we wage war. We have a responsibility to hold our elected officials accountable when they send our countrymen to foreign lands.

The simple fact is this: Iraq is over, but the violent conflict in Afghanistan continues at the nonrefundable cost of the lives of our brothers and sisters. As much as we would like to believe that we are there to institute "democracy" and "liberty," that simply is not the case. We are forcing our warriors to die for countries that do not want us there. We are forcing them to die under the premise of spreading liberty (albeit by force) when, in reality, they are being used to spread profit, for those that profit from the supreme sacrifice of others.

So on this "Memorial Day" of Sept. 11, remember to honor those who have fallen and those that continue to fall by not only remembering their sacrifice, but by demanding from those we elect to make sound decisions. They, too, must honor and respect the selfless bravery of our heroes by bringing them home. Let the rest of the world fix its own problems as we begin to fix ours.

Semper fi and RIP to all my bros who have fallen defending each other in the pits of hell.

Ian Pickett