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Lake County has memorials for veterans who died in Korea and Vietnam, and Munster has a museum-caliber memorial honoring those who died in the wars of the 20th century. Crown Point is planning a new memorial honoring those who valiantly gave their lives in World War II.

More than 6,840 U.S. service members died in Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan, including more than 200 Hoosier servicemen and women.

More than 30 from Northwest Indiana died in combat in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Unlike previous conflicts, they were all volunteer. That’s why it’s so important to recognize the dead but perhaps why it might be harder to get a memorial built in their honor, since those wars were not a universal experience for young men the way wars were when there was still a draft.

Most young men of a certain age fought in World War II, Korea or Vietnam, while only a scarce few engaged the enemy in the mountains of Afghanistan or streets of Iraq.

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Well, Valparaiso’s John Amos, who died in Iraq, deserves a memorial. So does LaPorte’s Jason Beadles, Munster’s Shaun Blue, and Merrillville’s Roy Buckley. So does Portage’s Adam Harting and LaPorte’s Heath David and Crown Point’s Nicholas Idalski. So does Hammond’s Duane Rios and Jonathan Rojas. So does Hobart’s Gregory Sanders and Portage’s Steven Sirko and Highland’s Nathan Stahl and everyone else who gave their lives in uniform while waging our nation’s longest wars.

A memorial should be built to honor them all, to show their families and loved ones they did not die unappreciated or in vain.

The time has come to honor these brave service members, who sacrificed everything in Iraq and Afghanistan, with a memorial somewhere in Northwest Indiana, perhaps by the Lake County/Porter County line. They shouldn’t have to wait more than half a century, as World War II veterans did for a national monument in Washington D.C.

Let us come together to honor their sacrifice. Let us show the world their deaths were not meaningless. Let us build Iraq and Afghanistan war dead a memorial in Northwest Indiana.

Let us build them a memorial.

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Business Reporter

Joseph S. Pete is a Lisagor Award-winning business reporter who covers steel, industry, unions, the ports, retail, banking and more. The Indiana University grad has been with The Times since 2013 and blogs about craft beer, culture and the military.