Ten years ago on February 15, 2003, an estimated 15 million people across 800 cities protested the invasion of Iraq, making it the largest antiwar rally in history. There is no condition or situation where violence is justified as anything but a last resort. Both on the streets and in distant conflict zones, peace must always remain our first priority. Whether as a member of our Armed Forces in a distant land or as an educated citizen here at home, each of us has a vital role to play as we ensure our collective security. These protests were a tremendous statement by millions of concerned citizens, but we must all unite with one voice and share in these decisions as an informed and engaged public.
War has changed in many ways with the emergence of new conflicts and the advancement of technology. However, fundamentally war has not varied. Soldiers are still being deployed and innocent civilians become casualties. There have been more than 600,000 mortalities resulting from conflicts in this century alone. Among those are the 6,600 American men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice.
The long term effects of conflict continue to take their toll on our bravest as the suicide rate among the nation's active-duty military personnel continues to spike. The number of soldiers, sailors, airmen, and marines taking their own lives has climbed to approximately one in every 18 hours and has eclipsed the rate of those dying in combat.
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