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As one of the longest wars in U.S. history continues in Afghanistan, people here at home are reminded of its importance and its often-tragic consequences with the loss of a very fine young soldier — U.S. Army Pfc. Andrew Keller.

The 22-year-old Keller was a resident of Tigard and a graduate of Beaverton’s Southridge High School. By all accounts, he was a natural-born leader — a person who inspired others around him. He displayed those traits as captain of his high school football team and as a team leader for his Army unit in Afghanistan.

Keller was killed by insurgents in Afghanistan on Aug. 15. His death brings home the reality of a war that, for most Americans, has seemed far too distant. More than 2,000 American soldiers have died as a result of the conflict in Afghanistan, which started soon after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. But the status of that war all but fades from the news until we once again lose a precious life.

This past week, however, the war and its casualties have been prominent in the minds of Washington County residents. They have rallied in support of Keller’s parents, brother and fiance. The outpouring from the community is evidence of the love that Andrew Keller encouraged in others. It’s also strong evidence of the respect the community has for soldiers performing their duties overseas.

This support and recognition for Keller should continue in a more permanent manner. Nearly 3,000 people have signed onto a Facebook page advocating that the Southridge football field be named in Keller’s honor. This movement is in keeping with similar tributes made to other fallen soldiers in recent years.

In 2004, the Sherwood High School stadium was renamed the Aaron J. Contreras Memorial Stadium. Contreras, who died in 2003 while serving as a helicopter pilot on military duty in Iraq, played football, basketball and baseball at Sherwood.

Meanwhile, Corbett High School dedicated a new stadium as the Jeff Lucas Memorial Veterans Stadium in honor of the Navy SEAL who died in the Afghan mountains in 2005.

We agree with those who say Keller should be honored in a like manner. He touched his community in many ways, as a soldier, student and athlete. A memorial in his honor not only would recognize his unselfish service, it also would provide an ongoing reminder to the community of the sacrifices made every day by the men and women still serving in the military in Afghanistan and elsewhere.

Contract Publishing

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