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Time Person of the Year: American soldier

Time's cover shows three American military personnel representing the American soldier, chosen as the magazine's Person of the Year.
Time's cover shows three American military personnel representing the American soldier, chosen as the magazine's Person of the Year.

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WISH's Shana Kelley talks to the family of Spc. Billie Grimes, one of the three soldiers representing Time magazine's Person of the Year 2003.
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• Interactive: Who's who in Iraq
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Unrest, Conflicts and War
George W. Bush

(CNN) -- Time magazine has named "the American soldier" as its Person of the Year of 2003.

The magazine's editors said it was clear from the start of their decision process that Iraq was the top story -- and from that -- several candidates emerged, including President Bush, Saddam Hussein, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and his deputy, Paul Wolfowitz.

But the editors' debate made something else very clear -- no matter what any of the political movers and shakers had done or would do in the future, it would be U.S. forces who bore the brunt of those decisions.

"Scholars can debate whether the Bush Doctrine is the most muscular expression of national interest in a half-century; the generals may ponder whether warmaking or peacekeeping is the more fearsome assignment; civilians will remember a winter wrapped in yellow ribbons and duct tape," writer Nancy Gibbs said in the magazine.

"In a year when it felt at times as if we had nothing in common anymore, we were united in this hope: that our men and women at arms might soon come safely home, because their job was done," Gibbs wrote. "They are the bright, sharp instrument of a blunt policy, and success or failure in a war unlike any in history ultimately rests with them."

Gen. Richard Myers, chairman of the U.S. joint chiefs of staff, said on "Fox News Sunday" that the selection was "exactly right."

"They're doing a terrific job, and we're going to have to use them probably for some time to come," he said.

The selection echoed Time's choice in 1950: the American Fighting-Man, who was battling communism on the Korean peninsula in what the magazine called "a bitterly unwelcome role."

"No matter how the issue was defined, whether he was said to be fighting for progress or freedom or faith or survival, the American's heritage and character were deeply bound up in the struggle," the magazine wrote in 1950. "More specifically, it was inevitable that the American be in the forefront of this battle because it was the U.S. which had unleased gigantic forces of technology and organizational ideas.

"These had created the great 20th Century revolution. Communism was a reaction, an effort to turn the worldwide forces set free by U.S. progress back into the old channels of slavery."

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