Suddenly, war is everywhere
So begins the prayer used at St. Stephen's Episcopal Church each Sunday for the members of our military.
The words have haunted me this week since my almost 38-year-old brother received orders to Iraq by way of Ft. Hood, Texas, where he'll train for six months.
He's a plant manager slated to join the national board of his professional association this summer; a second-year law student; a husband and the father of two small children. Soon, he will put all of that on hold to assume his duties as a soldier.
Before this week, I had managed to keep the war at arm's distance, despite having attended and photographed departure and arrival ceremonies for area soldiers and interviewing two mothers who lost their sons in battle. Even with that reality, it's almost easy to become immune to the news of the day, skipping the headlines that detail a fight I don't begin to comprehend, tuning O'Reilly out when his subject is war. It's less painful to not think of “casualties” as “deaths, so we don't.
Now, it seems that all headlines are related to the war, to post-traumatic stress disorder or some other military issue. With a few clicks of the computer keyboard, we can learn more than we ever wanted to know about the base just north of Bagdad.
We are comforted by statistics. In the 2005 training year, the Alabama National Guard lost one soldier in combat, but 10 in privately operated vehicles, my brother told us. He doesn't fear the work, he assured us; he only dreads the separation.
We know that much could change in his six-month training period, but we are not hopeful of an outbreak of peace.
We were raised to be patriots. But as my father admitted earlier this week, “it's much easier to be a flag-waver when it's not your son marching off to war.”
The thought made me wonder if we'd be fighting this war if more of those making the decisions to fight had children in the military. Somehow, I think not.
When the time comes, we'll say goodbye with tears in our eyes and pride in our hearts. And we will pray, “