As I sat this evening on the grass with my family (and 50,000 other people), I took a moment to truly reflect on what this country means to me and why I am so incredibly thankful to live here. These things are different to different people and that is one thing that makes this country so great.

I looked around and I saw so many DIFFERENT people - different colors, different sizes, different shapes, speaking different languages. And yet, when the lights dimmed and the band began to play the National Anthem, everyone rose. Hats came off. Hands went over hearts. Soldiers - in and out of uniform - stood at attention.

And everyone was the same. Everyone there, regardless of their differences, stood tall beneath the flag that draped the stage. Everyone.

My thoughts are so jumbled right now - so many things are runnning through my head. This past week has been another tough one - the crash of the Chinook in Afghanistan has brought about a roller-coaster of emotions. And word on the news tonight brings on another round of those emotions. Someone mentioned on another blog I read (lately I read it a lot) that we should not mourn for the soldiers on board that helicopter - that they were warriors and knew full well the fate that could befall them. It was not a tradgedy. It was war.

I don't know that I mourn for the soldiers. If I examine my heart and my feelings, I see that I mourn for those left behind. The wives. The children. The parents. The friends and family left to deal with the hole that will always be there. Always. I think back to our friend who died in the Chinook crash back in April and I mourn, again, for his wife and children, his parents and siblings, his friends.

I think it is natural to ponder, "What would I do in that situation?" A military spouse who says they don't think about that is most likely lying. And yet, you cannot know until you walk that mile in their shoes. And I pray that I never have to. I pray that our friends never have to.

But mostly, I pray for those that HAVE.


- hfs


Shannon said...

We shouldn't mourn the soldiers lost? Gosh I don't think I've read anything that hurt my heart so badly in a very long time :(.

I'll disagree and say they SHOULD be mourned. These men and women were Moms and Dads, sons and daughters, husbands and wives. They joined the military for a career, because of a calling or to be a part of something larger than themselves...they did NOT join to commit suicide.

My husband LOVES his job. He LOVES leading soldiers and he is a great leader if I do say so myself ;). I'm scared since he decided not to retire. I won't lie. However, I know there's a better chance all his soldiers will come home alive with him going with them. He cares about his soldiers and he'll do whatever it takes to keep them safe, make them do their jobs safely and stay alert at all times.

I don't want my husband going back over there. I feel like I just got him home. However, I can rationalize it by saying with him going, all those soldiers have someone who will do what it takes to ensure their safety - they have someone who truly cares about them and will lead them as if they were his own children. It hurts, knowing we will be apart again for so long. And I'm so scared about this second tour...every time I think of it I get tears streaming down my cheeks. But in my heart I know he's doing what he loves.

With all that said, he isn't staying in so he can meet his maker before his time. Of course we know the risks of being a soldier during war or even at home (we just lost several soldiers in another Brigade a few months ago during a training mission on our post). My husband looks forward to being here to see our children grow up. He wants to walk our daughter down the aisle on her wedding day and be there when our son graduates college. If, God forbid something happens to him, we WILL mourn him - every single day until the day WE die. He loves the Army and he loves leading soldiers - he didn't join for some death wish. I believe they ALL had plans for their future and they all deserve to be mourned when their lives are cut short and they are robbed of their futures.

Police and firefighters know the risks, do they, too, not deserved to be mourned? Many jobs have risks, and exceptional people stand up to the task and take those jobs. They are all someone's loved one, they all had plans for their futures, with their wives and children and they all deserve to be mourned if they die.

To lose ONE soldier is a tragedy. It's one less wonderful person who answered the call to protect our great nation. It's a family shattered, that will never the same. And when we lose a loved one, when we lose great men and women who are protecting our country, they deserve to be mourned in my opinion.

If something were to happen to my husband, don't cry for ME. Mourn for him because he would be robbed of all his dreams for the future, all the wonderful plans we have for the years ahead of us will be lost with him. I'll still be here to watch our children grow up and he'll miss it all...and war or no war, it is a tragedy to lose our people. It's a tragedy for them, their families and friends and our country.

In closing (sorry this turned out so long, it just really hit my heart hard this morning :(), I'm reminded of a quote from one of the few people I truly admire. Although short, it speaks volumes on this subject, as I believe no soldier, no servicemember plans to die for their country by joining and serving. Instead, they plan to be a part of a team that crushes any enemy who wishes to do harm to this nation and/or its citizens:

"No bastard ever won a war by dying for his country. He won it by making the other poor dumb bastard die for his country."
George S. Patton

Homefront Six said...

I'll post the quote to which I was referring in order to make my point a little clearer (obviously, I didn't do so the first time...it was late...). It comes from Matt Heide at FroggyRuminations :

" These men who died in an effort to save their comrades are not victims, they are warriors. It is easy to say that since they went down in a helo crash that this was some kind of tragedy like a traditional civilian aircraft accident. This is a war people. They jumped on that bird knowing that they were going to be engaging the enemy, and unfortunately, the enemy engaged them before they got the chance. I wanted to spell this out so that no one makes the mistake of treating this terrible situation like an episode of Law and Order. Sh*t happens in war, and there's nothing anyone can do to prevent it."

I think (and this is my interpretation of this quote) that he was saying that we should not view those lost as "victims" - they chose to join and fight for their country - and for us - and they knew what the risks were. That makes them warriors, not victims, and there is a different KIND of mourning that should take place.

Yes, I believe we should mourn for the soldiers lost - they will miss so much and BE missed so much.

But I see it as a different KIND of mourning than that for someone who dies in a car crash or of cancer.

I"m not sure if I"m making sense...your comments caught me off-guard a bit. I understand where you're coming from and I'm sorry if I hurt you with my comments.

And it's good to see you back...

Al's Girl said...

I am honoring those brave soldiers - but as a soon to be Army wife, I feel horribly for their families. As much as I think that honor and valor and courage are wonderful things --- they don't keep the other side of the bed warm at night - or wipe away the tears spilling down your cheeks.

Thank you for writing about the reality of war - from both sides of the spectrum.

Shannon said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Shannon said...

I'm sorry, I didn't mean to catch you off-guard. It's just a very touchy subject for me. We just returned from a vacation that was so, so special and wonderful - better than anything I could have EVER imagined. The last two nights we were there, after he had fallen asleep, I'd catch myself hoping and praying this isn't the last vacation God blesses us with. It was just such a magical time - perfect family time and time with each other and our friends, I felt as though it was too good in some ways and my superstitious side kicked in I guess. So, the thought of not mourning our fallen hit me hard the other morning :(.

Nothing in your original post mentioned anything about viewing them as a victims. And, I don't view any of our lost heroes as victims, I agree that they are warriors.

I just disagree that it is a different kind of mourning - regardless of soldiers "knowing" what could happen to them. Losing someone unexpectedly that you love - whether it is due to an accident (car or plane crash for example), a sudden illness (a heart attack, stroke etc.) or during war - when it happens to your loved one, the way in which their life was taken doesn't matter. The loss you feel (I would imagine) is all the same. One of the spouses who lost her husband to an IED at our installation during the last deployment said it best I guess. She said, when they told her, she just couldn't believe it. She'd just spoken to him the night before on the phone, he'd emailed her that morning before they rolled out...and to know that he was no longer here, no longer on this earth - it seemed like a lie, that it just couldn't be real - she'd JUST talked to him....

I would imagine I'd feel the same way if something happened to dh driving home from work. Now, if he'd suffered from cancer and had been sick for a long time, I imagine that to be a different kind of mourning. I know when my grandmother passed, we mourned her. She held our family together and we loved her so much. However, at the same time, we were thankful that God had called her home after her long and painful battle, so she was no longer suffering. That kind of mourning is different in my opinion than a sudden loss...

I just see this different than the person you quoted is all and that's ok ;). I fully admit I'm extremely touchy on this subject though :(.

Homefront Six said...

Fair enough...fair enough.

I'm so glad your vacation was so wonderful! You two definitely deserved it!


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