This little town not far from Fresno may be the perfect place to observe Veterans Day as our nation closes a decade of war. A quiet San Joaquin Valley community in the heart of our most populous state, Clovis has lost 10 of its sons -- eight of them from local Buchanan High School -- in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Though the Defense Department apparently doesn't keep statistics on per capita losses for American communities, Clovis may be for this war what Bedford, Va., was for World War II. According to local records, 19 "Bedford Boys" -- all from the little Shenandoah Valley town -- died within hours of one another at Normandy's Omaha Beach on June 6, 1944. That's why the National D-Day Memorial is in Bedford.
At least for now, Clovis has taken a somewhat different approach. Rather than just a memorial of brick and stone, this community has decided to invest in improving lives -- those of area veterans. For the past seven years, the citizens here have turned out to participate in what they call the Hubbard-Baro Memorial Golf Tournament. Funds raised by the event are used to supplement recovery, therapy and rehabilitation programs for hurting heroes at the nearby veterans' hospital.
The tournament is named for the first two "Clovis Boys" to die in this long war: Jared Hubbard and Jeremiah Baro. After graduating from Buchanan High, the two friends enlisted in the Marines and went to boot camp and follow-on infantry training together. Paired as a two-man scout-sniper team, they deployed in February 2003 to Operation Iraqi Freedom.
The two battle buddies shipped out again the following year to bloody Anbar Province, and on Nov. 4, 2004, they died together when an improvised explosive device detonated beneath their vehicle.
Some have questioned the need for such an event. "Why," asked a fellow passenger on the flight here, "does anyone need to have a fundraiser for these guys? Doesn't the government pay for all that?" The short answer is no. And it's unlikely the U.S. government will ever be able to do all that is needed for the veterans of America's wars.
There should be no doubt that military medicine has improved dramatically in the years since my peers and I were wounded on the battlefields of Vietnam. Innovations in emergency trauma treatment and equipment; advanced training for field medical personnel; and rapid helicopter evacuations of the 36,000 Americans wounded in Iraq and Afghanistan to some of world's best shock-trauma hospitals have saved the lives of many who would have died in any other war. But that also means there are thousands of survivors who will need help for years to come.
Oliver North is a nationally syndicated columnist, the host of War Stories on the Fox News Channel, the author of the new novel Heroes Proved and the co-founder of Freedom Alliance, an organization that provides college scholarships to the children of U.S. military personnel killed or permanently disabled in the line of duty. Join Oliver North in Israel by going to www.olivernorthisrael.com.
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