Today was a pretty busy day. Patrick and I got up early and headed west to split wood at my grandparents' house. It was a successful day, even if Patrick has no concept of time and made us 40 minutes late leaving this morning.
But more importantly, perhaps, today was the day that Devan made it back from Iraq. His plan landed around 8 p.m. this evening in Lynchburg, thereby completing his tour of duty in Iraq. I haven't seen him yet, nor have I heard from him and I figure I won't for a few days. After all, he hasn't seen his family since the first of the year and they deserve a happy, long and uninterrupted reunion.
Patrick summed it up pretty well on the ride home this evening. "I'm glad we didn't have to carry him."
Sadly, there are many friends and families who had to carry their loved one to their grave. I'm very happy that Devan made it home safely and we didn't have to. I still can't fight that twinge of sadness I feel when I think about those who didn't make it home. I have no concept of being in the military and I have no idea what war and combat are like. I have good friends who do. I have family members that do.
Grandpa (Mom's Dad) fought in World War II. He was a combat engineer and from what he's told me (and what he hasn't) I know he's seen his share of combat. He also told me about what it was like seeing all those soldiers that were nothing more than boys stretched out in rows under tarps as they waited for burial overseas or for transport to the home they would never see again.
I've never forgotten the look on his face when he told about seeing that. I doubt I ever will. The image of that in my head reminds me to shut up when I think about disagreeing with the reasons behind the war and open my mouth to support those fighting it instead. It's a free country and we have a right to disagree about what's going on. But before we do, I believe we should take a moment and think about what it's doing to the soldiers who are actually fighting the war and think instead about how we can support them.
The war is winding down. The last combat units left Iraq last week and there are only about 45,000 troops left overseas in a "peacekeeping" capacity that is considered a non-combat role. The time to debate whether or not we should have been there has arrived, though we are still a few years removed from the overall judgement of history on the subject.
But before that debate begins, we should all take a moment and thank the people who went to war and say a prayer for the families of those that didn't make it back. We can't all fight, but we all can, and should, respect those who have.