June 13, 2009

Iraq & Afghanistan

Been thinking about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Two wars that have been waged my daughter's entire life and most of my son's. Two wars that they know little to nothing about, but that is OK.

Part of the joy of being a child is based upon innocence. Part of the joy is not being aware of how many bad things exist and how life doesn't always have happy endings. It is a key component of their being able to sleep so peacefully. Children don't worry about being employed, feeding a family, paying a mortgage or how to pay for car repairs.

And the truth is that so many of us here in the states don't spend much time thinking about the wars, or if we do it is more theoretical in nature. We're not happy about death and destruction, but because it is so far away we worry about the financial impact.

It is understandable, unless you are in a place where you are exposed to our service people it is easy to forget about the human element. I try not to. I try to remind myself that there are people out there who are being maimed physically and psychologically.

I try to remind myself that someone's mother/father/sister/brother/son is not going to come home or if they do come home they are damaged in ways that I can't imagine.

It doesn't matter what your politics are, they are out there working for and fighting on our behalf and I am grateful for that.

In my little world I know a bunch of soldiers and have heard all kinds of stories. But lately when I think about Iraq and Afghanistan I think of a friend who is a medic. He has already completed two tours in Iraq and is waiting to be shipped out to Afghanistan.

Sometimes he'll talk about some of what has happened and I sit and listen. Stories about how he was injured and what happened. Tales that aren't told in a way that you would classify as bragging.

I am not always sure that he is talking to me, because sometimes he get's this far away look in his eyes and I wonder what it is that he sees. He wants to go back because he doesn't know what to do with himself here. I ask him what he is going to do when it ends because at some point we will leave both countries or he'll be discharged.

He tells me that if he doesn't come home as a KIA he'll go back to being a software engineer, maybe. I tell him that he can't think about dying, he just has to believe that he is going to live. He nods and smiles. I get the feeling that he is politely blowing me off and maybe he is.

What do I know about combat. I battle for rebounds. Been in more than one or two fist fights in my life, but not in a war. Can't say that I really understand, but I can't ignore the comments about not coming back either, now can I.


Alone in the dark I stare at the sleeping child and listen to the soft snore. I bend over and kiss a forehead and hope that somehow they never lose the ability to sleep like this. I used to be able to do that. I wonder if I can learn how to do it again.


Robin said...

A very powerful post. When you're just reading the headlines, it's easy to forget that each statistic had a mother and a father, perhaps a husband or a wife, children...

Would that we could protect all the children - young and old.

My cousin has completed several tours in Afghanistan and Iraq, piloting a SAR helicopter, doing things I probably really don't want to know about or I'll never sleep again... He's now posted back to the US for the next several years and the whole family has just breathed a giant sigh of relief.

Jack said...

Hi Robin,

Thanks for stopping by. Sometimes it is easy to forget, but there are moments where you can't.

Thank your cousin for me, I appreciate his service.

The Homefront said...

Thanks, Jack. I've found some downtime to look over posts I've missed on my blogrolls and found this one.

My husband has been deployed to Iraq this year. I watch my children sleep and hope that he comes home the father they barely remember.

Thank you for being part of that "grateful nation." It means so much to service members and their families, believe me.

Jack said...

Hi Homefront,

It is a sincere thanks for all of the sacrifice. I hope that he comes home real soon.