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The wars in the Middle East have gone on for so many years now. Because of its distance from our bubble here, in some ways it’s almost seemed like they’ve been just some distant story. I have friends in all of the different military branches and some of them have served over there, but in the past few years I feel like I’ve been disconnected from that reality.

If you think about it, it’s been nearly a decade since September 11. In essence, the United States has been at war in Afghanistan and Iraq for half of my life. Yet what exactly have we been fighting for?

I’m a politically opinionated person, but on these two wars, I’ve been oddly split on how I feel. Perhaps it’s because there is no clear picture as to what we’re fighting for. Why? That’s the key question, after all. Yes, there was 9/11, there were the oppressions of the Taliban and of Saddam Hussein, but in July 2010, what are we fighting for?

Despite my uncertainty about our wars, I support our troops nevertheless. As we approach the Fourth of July this weekend, it’s a time to remember, reflect, honor and respect.

I include a link here to a collection of photos from boston.com. These photos are both disheartening and enlightening, they make me both happy and sad. They can be a little hard to take in, but please take the time to view all of them and read all of the captions as well.

This link was sent to me about 15 minutes ago and since then, I’ve been shaken. As I’m sitting here writing this, I feel my body getting the chills. I’m frozen. My mind is spinning and my fingers are moving, but I’m actually sitting here unable to move the rest of my body. I’m starting to feel light-headed and feeling like I’m going to puke.

If you read the comments afterwards (but please view the photographs first), you’ll note that #37 resonated a lot with many people. Visually it is simple and tranquil. Yet it is perhaps one of the most terrifying ones because it shows the repercussions of war. Sure, the bloody images and painful sights of casualities are initially harder to take, but when #37 sinks in, you wonder all over again, why are we killing each other?

This Fourth of July I will be working, shooting and interviewing people for a video package. My fellow interns think I’m crazy to say okay to staying in Bloomington and working on both a Sunday and a holiday. But I’m excited. Not only because I get to shoot and interview, but also because it’s for the Sea to Shining Sea cross-country bike ride. It’s a group of veterans and non-veterans, disabled and not, riding across the country from San Francisco to Virginia Beach to show that they can accomplish.

I’m inspired.