I have the opportunity to spend a significant amount of time with a rather precocious 8 year old, who often makes me stop and examine
things I accept as status quo. She had been telling me about what she learned in school about Memorial Day and how she was going to find a soldier to thank for his service and I promised I would take her to the parade so she can do just that. I then forgot
most of the conversation except the promise. We ran several errands and then I settled her down in the living room while I started dinner preparations.
When I went to join her I found her staring at a triple frame that holds pictures of "my soldiers" my son, husband and father.
All in their dress uniforms, all looking proud and serious and all heartbreakingly young. My father flew 32 missions over Germany during WWII with the Army Air Corp (now the USAF), my husband served in Vietnam with the Marines, and my son served in the First
Gulf War in the Army. After we discussed who each one was and her relationship to them, she asked that age old question. "Why do we have to have wars?" Because she is only 8 and I do have some sense of age appropriate conversation, I fobbed her off as well
as I could without actually answering her question.
As I lay in bed that night I started thinking about my soldiers, and the other soldiers
and sailors in our family and others and wondered if they ever felt appreciated. I know the welcome extended to Vietnam era veterans
was deplorable and WWII vets were feted, but I doubt anyone but our family even noticed my son's return from Kuwait. Communities seem to be doing a bit more for the current dischargees. But 6 months after discharge, when they can't find a job, do any feel
From there I thought about the men I see at the Soup kitchen here in town, most of whom have substance abuse issues, many of whom
are also veterans and several of whom are the best read, nicest people you would ever hope to meet. And it hurts my heart to know how badly they have been destroyed. Somewhere there is a frame for each, a family member or friend who remembers what a goof he
was in high school, a girl who dated him, a mother who raised him.
Clearly, I have no answers. I can't change things. But to the men and women who have served this country, I offer my thanks and
continued appreciation and my prayers that good will come of your sacrifice.