11 November, 2007


It affects different people differently, you know.

Some are perfectly comfortable with black and white: kill or be killed. Ready, aim, fire. Any problems they might have with that are never shown or shared. They come home and laugh to find themselves taking cover when cars backfire, and they get the occasional nightmare. They know they've crossed a line that most Americans haven't, but they do not regret having done it. Honored to have reduced the world of one less "waste of oxygen." Scars? Damage? Not up for discussion. No regrets, no equivocations, no comment. They have found their calling as warfighters, protecting and defending that which they love.

Others agonize over questions of true honor and justification for having crossed that line, taken actions that ended another's life. "I had the upper hand and I took it: can I look myself in the mirror over it; can I tolerate that others praise me for simply doing what I'd sworn to do?" But they comfort themselves with the knowledge that it had to be done, that they serve at the pleasure of their country and Commander in Chief, and they ask God for his forgiveness if it turns out they have acted wrongly. They take those dark memories and searing questions and box them up in a dusty corner, occasionally revisiting them when the box leaks or a ghost drifts through their dreams.

And still others struggle with all of that and more, with blood-drenched memories, face after face in the rifle scope, the question of how killing could ever be "right." And most-importantly, "Why am I alive?" Everything has changed and no one seems to understand anymore. The questions, the memories, horrors seen... at times it becomes too much. They are home, but they are not "back." Not yet.

Meet one of the latter group. Read every link on that page, watch the videos. Know what they have done for you.

Do not pity them, but honor them. Honor them for having sacrificed a sense of innocence for you, for having crossed that line, for keeping their vows, for living something that you will never have to see and know in your bones like they do. Love them, support them, value their sacrifice. In honoring and acknowledging their service and their sacrifice, you are giving them something to build their recovery on... a sense that what they did mattered for us. Because it does.

We are the reason for their condition. We are the purpose. As Lex said, we are their family; they did it for us.

Caring for our veterans is not merely a warm-hearted reaction to a gift they have given. It's our moral obligation, the only ethical response to a life and soul laid out there in our name. Let us honor our veterans. Today and everyday.

[for BT, JD, BB, CFL, MM, CZ, RS, JRS, SD, JT... the husbands of so many of my friends... and others far too numerous to mention here.]