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Our View: Support for troops goes beyond contest

Published: Thursday, June 27, 2013 5:30 a.m. CST

Less than three years ago, Richard Bennett of DeKalb was a soldier with the Army’s 101st Airborne Division, serving in Afghanistan.

While he was there, Bennett was awarded a Silver Star for valor for saving the life of a medic who was shot in the neck during a firefight in that country’s Korangal Valley.

When one of the soldiers Bennett called to come help him was shot in the hand, Bennett took matters into his own hands and dragged the medic to safety, narrowly escaping danger.

Today, Bennett is a student at Northern Illinois University. He also is one of 90 finalists in the “Tribute to Heroes” contest sponsored by Major League Baseball and People magazine. He is one of three nominees of the Cubs in the contest. The nominees with the most votes on their respective teams will be involved with and recognized during the MLB’s All-Star Weekend on July 12 through 16. One of the winners also will be profiled in a future issue of People magazine.

First off, Bennett deserves your vote in the contest. You can vote early and often for him online at http://shawurl.com/njl

More importantly, Bennett’s story of risking his life to save one of his comrades is a reminder that there are many veterans who have committed acts of bravery far bolder than many of us ever would dare attempt. Yet today, they, like Bennett, walk among us, just ordinary people on the street.

The American public often forgets that even today, almost 12 years after the Sept. 11 terror attacks, American soldiers still are fighting in Afghanistan. Many of those who were lucky enough to return home from their service without any outward signs of injury often suffer in other ways.

In Bennett’s case, supporting the troops means voting for him in MLB’s contest. But when one considers what veterans such as Bennett actually have done while wearing our country’s uniform, it’s clear that it should extend well beyond that.

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