Protectors always at risk

Americans’ admiration and gratitude for the bravery, dedication and toughness of the armed forces in combat zones is expressed so often and so fervently that those who serve ought to take it for granted.

But we forget, sometimes, about the hundreds of thousands of men and women in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines and Coast Guard who are at risk whenever and wherever they serve.

We were reminded of that last week when a Navy destroyer, the USS Fitzgerald, collided with a merchant ship off the coast of Japan. Some on the America ship were injured badly. Seven sailors were killed.

We hear of such accidents regularly. Air Force warplanes go down on practice flights. Soldiers and Marines are hurt or killed in combat exercises. Coast Guard personnel risk their lives frequently to save others at sea.

Serving in the armed forces is, by definition, not a normal job. These men and women work with weapons of war. Often, even on “routine” duty, they perform dangerous tasks.

Of course, our regard for those in the military who confront our enemies on the battlefield, whether on the ground, in the air or on the seas, knows no bounds. That is appropriate.

At the same time, however, we should not forget that many others in the armed forces, whose work seldom makes headlines, are putting themselves in harm’s way day in and day out for us.