The war in Iraq will feel much closer to home come December.

Alex Cornell du Houx '06 will be shipping off for military service at the end of the year. Cornell du Houx, who is known on campus for his political activism and community service work, will participate in counter-insurgency demolitions work in Iraq.

Until now, the war's impact on the collective Bowdoin community has been limited to intellectual discussions or heated arguments at campus events, like former ambassador L. Paul Bremer's lecture last spring. But soon, one of Bowdoin's own?a student who is a friend and leader to many on campus?will be risking his life in the service of his country.

Such service is not new in Bowdoin's long past. A visitor walking around campus sees monuments to those who gave selflessly in the Civil War, the world wars, Vietnam, and Korea. In our history classes, we learn about the strategies and rationale for wars both foreign and domestic. Yet today, shifting cultural norms and a modernized military have created a situation where only a small number of students who attend Bowdoin choose to enter the armed forces.

This creates a paradox for the College and for society.

One in five upperclass students at Bowdoin has declared government as a major; some may eventually run for elected office. These future leaders will make decisions about wars and conflicts that will affect the lives of people around the globe. But most will have spent their lives observing the harsh reality of battle from afar. While it is one thing to appreciate the service of fellow citizens, it is quite another to understand it.

Our neighbors who call the Brunswick Naval Air Station home, along with the students and staff who have friends or family serving abroad, know all too well the feeling of seeing a loved one sent overseas. But during an era when for so many of us, war appears on our television screens and seems so far away, the deployment of one of our own brings these images home. Cornell du Houx's departure provides all at Bowdoin with an opportunity to reflect upon the realities of war.

To him and all military personnel who have connections to Bowdoin, we wish you safe tours of duty, swift returns, and thank you for your service.

The editorial represents the majority view of The Bowdoin Orient's editorial board. The editorial board consists of the editors-in-chief and the managing editor.