This Week at War: What Really Matters

The ultimate sacrifice made by a decorated Green Beret in Afghanistan should remind all Americans what's truly important.

A U.S. Army carry team transfers the remains of Sgt. Maj. James "Ryan" Sartor on July 15, 2019, at Dover Air Force Base in Delaware.

By Tom Sileo Published on July 19, 2019

All week, I watched along with millions of Americans as many politicians and cable news talking heads did everything possible to tear this country apart. It wasn’t a “war of words,” as the media narrative mostly went. No matter who you blame, it was a dishonorable, disgraceful display by everyone involved.

What bothered me most about this week’s partisan debacle was what immediately preceded it. This past Saturday in Afghanistan, a highly decorated U.S. Army Green Beret was killed in action by enemy small arms fire in Faryab Province. Sergeant Major James “Ryan” Sartor, 40, was married with three children.

Instead of uniting to salute a selfless soldier who loved our country, many political leaders and journalists decided it was time for another damaging debate about who loves and hates America. This weekly feature does not focus on that divisive nonsense, but instead on those who are willing to sacrifice everything to defend our liberty.


“Everybody has a hero,” Sgt. Maj. Sartor’s mother, Terri Pryor, told the San Angelo Standard-Times. “I raised mine.”

John Tufts’ article said the Teague, Texas, soldier originally joined the Army in 2001. He first deployed in 2002 before completing the rigorous training required to become a Green Beret, which resulted in at least six more combat deployments to Afghanistan and Iraq.

“Ryan was a beloved warrior who epitomized the Quiet Professional,” the 10th Special Forces Group said in a statement published on Facebook. “He led his Soldiers from the front and his presence will be terribly missed.”

As pundits screamed at each other on Fox News, CNN and MSNBC, Sgt. Maj. Sartor’s flag-draped casket returned to American soil on Sunday in Dover, Delaware. Candlelight vigils were held Tuesday in Texas and Wednesday in Colorado to honor the fallen American hero and his grieving family.

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“There was a time when Ryan was a little boy that he kind of looked up to me, and I felt sometimes he kind of idolized me a little bit,” said the soldier’s former pastor, as quoted by KWTX-TV. “But if Ryan could hear me now, I wish I could tell him that he’s my hero, and I’m looking up to him.”

As a nation, who will we look up to? A “quiet professional” who spent almost two decades putting his life on the line for our freedom, or those who are busy tearing at the fabric of our national honor?

Please ask God to comfort the family of Sgt. Maj. James “Ryan” Sartor as they experience an unimaginable wave of grief. At the same time, please pray for our country’s leaders and ask the Lord to show them the error of their recent ways.

Middle East

Another example of our country not focusing on what really matters can be demonstrated by this story barely registering on the national radar screen.

According to reports, 500 American troops recently arrived in Saudi Arabia to confront the ongoing threat posed by Iran. This is in addition to 500 troops recently deployed to the Middle East and thousands already serving in nearby Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan and other regional hotspots.

The news came just as tensions between the U.S. and Iran increased even further when the U.S. Navy amphibious assault ship USS Boxer shot down an Iranian drone over the Strait of Hormuz. President Trump confirmed the incident on Thursday at the White House.

We will be praying for our country’s brave men and women in uniform as they serve in the Middle East. All of us at The Stream anxiously await their safe return.

Coming Home

A group of North Carolina National Guard soldiers is back home after spending an entire year deployed to multiple war zones.

Soldiers Come Home

Soldiers embrace family and friends following a yearlong deployment to southwest Asia supporting Operation Spartan Shield and Operation Inherent Resolve on July 13, 2019, in Raleigh, North Carolina.

Welcome home, heroes! Thank you for your service.


Tom Sileo is a contributing senior editor of The Stream. He is co-author of 8 Seconds of CourageBrothers Forever and Fire in My Eyes. Follow Tom on Twitter @TSileo and The Stream at @Streamdotorg

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