Friday, November 11, 2011

Hero's Dance

(Iraq 2010)

Courage is almost a contradiction in terms. It means a strong desire to live taking the form of readiness to die. ~G.K. Chesterton

Day 59

Happy Veterans Day! Somehow that sounds disrespectful since it brings back so many sorrow filled memories for so many. I remember when my youngest son (he’s the one in the picture above with chin in hand. He’s only 27 and a sergeant in the Air Force and I’m so damned proud of him) was deployed I told myself, “I don’t want to be drunk or hungover if I get that call in the middle of the night, or that knock on the door. I want to do him proud.” I thought that would be incentive enough to keep me sober, it wasn’t. I remember when he and his wife, who is also a sergeant in the Air Force, asked me to keep my 2 ½ yr. old grandson for four months while they were both deployed, I thought, “Now I have to stay sober, I have this baby to look after.” I’m ashamed to say that wasn’t enough to keep me sober either. I don’t know what made me decide finally. I guess it’s like ending up back at the same old familiar fork in the road trying to decide which way to go, I looked up one fork of the road and I saw people laughing and joking and having a couple of beers at a patio restaurant table, and then I looked further and I could see a beautiful sunset and a few friends out on a beach toasting each other and the end of the day with sparkling glasses of wine, and then the road bends and I can’t see any further. It doesn’t matter, I’ve been down that road hundreds of times and I know what is around that bend. I know that the road is full of ruts and potholes and dead ends, but I kept taking it because I kept thinking that maybe it will be different this time, maybe it will be fixed, maybe it will be improved. I knew where all the potholes and dead ends were, maybe if I just avoided them I could make it through. But the road never improved and every time there were new pot holes and no matter which way I turned,I kept ending up in the same dead end with no exit. I had to turn back around and make my way back to the fork in the road. So then I looked up the other road, I’d heard it was the better road, the safer road but it didn’t look like it. From where I stood, all I could see was a lonely stretch of highway, there were no bright restaurants or beach bars, no friends clinking glasses. It looked bleak and desolate. It too had a bend that I couldn’t see around, and I’d heard that once I got around that bend, things would be so much better, the road would be so much smoother and best of all, there were no dead ends. I finally decided I had to see what was around that bend. To be continued…

In honor of my son and daughter-in-law and their fellow soldiers and their families I borrowed this from my other blog:

I am going about my usual business this morning, listening to the news on the TV with about a half an ear and an even lesser percentage of my mind when the newsperson announces,

"A roadside bomb killed three U. S. soldiers this morning,..."

Everything stops!


"Where?" my mind screams, now on full alert.

"in Northwestern Pakistan," the announcer continues.

"Oh good," my mind thinks. "Far away from Iraq or Kuwait where Matt is."

A few seconds later my heart catches up and I realize for thousands of soldiers' loved ones the hell of this day is just starting.

Every Mom and Dad wonders if one of the fallen soldiers is their son or daughter.

Every wife and husband wonders if one of them is their husband or wife.

Every daughter and son wonders if one is their Mom or Dad.

Every sister and brother wonders if one is their brother or sister.

Every grandmother and grandfather wonders if one is their grandaughter or grandson.

Every boyfriend and girlfriend wonders if one is their girlfriend or boyfriend.

Every friend wonders if one is their friend.

For most of us the day will end with relief, elation and a little guilt that we feel this way.

For the loved ones of the three heroes, their everlasting heartache is just beginning.

And this is the dance we do.


Vaya Con Dios

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