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Remembering the service and sacrifice of our citizen soldiers
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A year has certainly flown by quickly.

As the war in Iraq enters its fourth year, and as Memorial Day approaches, we can think about what it’s like having the members of Georgia’s 48th Brigade home for a year.

A little less than a year ago, the members of the Springfield-based 1/118 Field Artillery Battalion’s A Battery returned after a year on duty in Iraq and 15 months of active duty. Since then, the mission of the 48th has changed. No longer is it a mechanized force, relying on the muscle of Abrams main battle tanks and the Paladin self-propelled howitzers used by the 1/118.

The 48th is adapting to a lighter force, as the Army seeks to become more flexible, giving itself the ability to send men and material into hot spots more quickly. It means the men and women of the 48th will be back at work this summer to learn new roles and new jobs.

It also means as the fight in Iraq and Afghanistan continues, the active duty Army will remain committed there, likely for some time to come. That means the National Guard will be called upon even more should trouble arise elsewhere. National Guardsmen already have served with distinction in the Middle East and continue to serve in the Balkans.

More than 4,000 members of the 48th left for Iraq two years ago, getting a send off from Gov. Sonny Perdue as they marched across Fort Stewart’s Cottrell Field. With the reorganization, their ranks will be cut down to less than 3,500.

While the jobs of many of the 48th Brigade’s soldiers will be changing, their future missions in essence won’t — to be ready for the call of duty, whether it’s fighting raging forest fires, restoring hope and normalcy to areas ravaged by catastrophes or bringing peace and freedom to other parts of the world.

The sacrifices of Georgia’s citizen soldiers — and there were many during their year in what has long been called the cradle of civilization and yet seems so far removed from that title now — and their families should be remembered this week and for as long as men and women leave their jobs to defend America and its freedoms.