Gen. Colin Powell on Veteran’s Day: ‘Be Grateful For Those Who Serve’

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“We went into Afghanistan because we’d been attacked from Afghanistan. That’s where Al-Qaida and Osama Bin Laden had their homes and their headquarters. We gave the Afghan government, the Taliban, at that time, time to get rid of Osama Bin Laden and turn him over and we chose not to, so we had to go in and take him out. We tried to give the Afghans an opportunity to build democracy and a better system of government and they’re working at it but we’re coming out of Afghanistan next year.

In Iraq, you can argue whether we should have gone in, but at the time the intelligence community was telling all of us that weapons of mass destruction were there and were a problem. We got rid of them and I think we made mistakes after seizing Baghdad not to understand that if you break it, you own it. If you take out a government, you are the government until you can establish a new government under the control of its own citizens.

We did that and we left Iraq. It’s now up to the Iraqis if they want to live under a democratic system where all part of the country are represented fairly or if they want to have a civil war. And that’s not something the United States can deal with. They have to deal with that.”

As Veteran’s Day is a time to celebrate those who have served their country, Powell says the day should be more than just a day off of work. It’s a time when you can truly honor the soldiers who have made sacrifices for their country and who serve proudly to keep all of us safe.

“Say ‘Hello’ to them, thank them about their service and ask them about their service. Where did you serve? What did you see? Are you doing OK? Do you have a job? Is there anything I can do to help you get a job? In your community, reach out to veterans. If a veteran moves into your neighborhood that has come back home, can you help them adjust to being back home?

Help them babysit; get them a job. Include them in your activities. They want to be welcomed back into their communities. They want to believe that they will be assisted by their fellow citizens in reintegrating back into American society. We should be so proud of them because they are volunteers. They serve the nation when the nation calls on them.”

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