The war in Iraq reached a major and disturbing milestone on Sunday with the death of the 4,000th coalition soldier.
All politics aside - 4,000 dead men and women is a sobering bench mark no matter where you live or what you do. The more sobering realization is that the war is not over and no end is currently in sight.
So what do we, as ordinary American citizens, do?
We remember what's going on over there in the desert even when it's popular to forget.
We currently live in a country that's in an economic recession. We're paying more for gasoline than ever before not to mention the prices of everyday items like milk, bread and cheese have risen more in the last 12 months than at any time in recent history.
We're a people struggling to live our lives as we've become accustomed - but we still have a duty to remember.
Not just to remember the dead but to remember what it is they died for and where it was that they died.
After five years of war in Iraq, we've tended to put the subject on the back burner. The days of watching imbedded reporters on the front lines are long gone.
We're content to let the war become a political rallying point in an upcoming election or the once desired - now tarnished - feather in the hat of a president trying to establish a legacy.
What we've forgotten is there are real people in Iraq living the war and, in 4,000 cases, dying in the sand because of the war.
A recent Gallup poll, released on March 20, said 54 percent of Americans believe history will judge the war in Iraq as a failure, and 59 percent of Americans believe sending troops to Iraq was a mistake in the first place.
Even with all of the anti-war sentiment, are we getting side tracked by the all of other events in the world?
I have been greatly distracted, and not until Monday morning when I learned of the 4,000 dead soldiers did it hit me - there is still a war going on in Iraq.
How easy is it to live in this country and not have to bother one's self with the thought of the Iraq war?
In the past two months, there have been days when the only mention of the war has been in a presidential campaign speech (aside from the fifth anniversary of the war last week). On a day-to-day basis most people, including me, don't think about what is going on outside of the States much less that American troops are dying in the Middle East.
This is stark contrast from years and wars before. During World War II, the everyday lives of Americans were changed because of the war - everything changed, even down to the products they could and could not buy from the grocery store.
During Vietnam, because of the protests and the draft controversy, the war was on the minds of everyone and in the media throughout the conflict.
According to a report from a national news source, nearly 162,000 troops are currently serving in Iraq - that's a lot of folks. 162,000 people that we should at least have the courtesy to remember - whether we agree with the politics or not.
If nothing else, remembering the dead may be the most we can do to honor their lives and pay tribute what they and their families sacrificed for a war that seems, by and large, mired in politics and public apathy.
Robby Byrd is the editor of The Covington News. He can be reached at rbyrd@covnews.