Saturday, September 11, 2010

Postcard to a Soldier

Dear Soldier,

I don't know how to say thanks, but in my imperfect way I will try.

When I see you dressed in fatigues pumping gas, shopping for groceries, waiting at the airport, or getting your haircut, I will always stop and say thank you.  I will offer my hand, that you might shake it, and I will offer you a hug, if you will accept it. 

I will pray for you each and every night with my son.

I honor you, because you have freely chosen the duty to defend this country, this people rife with error and imperfection.  You signed up to serve, not a president or a mission statement, but to protect and defend the lives of men, women, and children you will never know.  You were aware that your life would be put into harm's path, and yet you still undertook the task. 

Nine years ago, you watched in horror alongside the entire nation as the worst act of violence to overshadow Pearl Harbor occurred.  Planes fell from the sky, killing everyone in their paths.  Firefighters, doctors, nurses, paramedics, police officers, and men and women from all walks of life ran to recover the dead, dying, and wounded from the wreckage that spanned three states.  A nation was brought to it's knees, but sadly we didn't stay on our knees in prayer long enough.  A president struggled to address this bewildered populous as parents struggled to soothe their children and you prepared yourself, for you knew that you would be called upon. 

Maybe at that time you were 13, filled with righteous indignation and desire to stand up and defend your country.  Maybe you were 26, almost on your way out when your unit was stop-lossed.  Maybe you hated the president, maybe your were his biggest fan.  Maybe you joined the service to avoid the question, "When are you going to start doing something with your life?"  You all came from different walks of life, then, nine years ago and still today. 

I have a tender-hearted baby brother who is wishing to join the service.  I dread to think of him as a soldier, for a soldier has to grow hardened and accustomed to seeing the harshest conditions of life, possibly comforting a dying squad member, sleeping in foxholes or having to shoot a child who is firing upon you.  But who am I to say, "You, over there.  Thanks for your sacrifice; I appreciate it, but I don't want one of my own to possibly get hurt."

I can't do that.  And as much as it hurts, I won't.  I know my brother is at a cross-road in his life right now, with many possibilities to consider and many decisions to make.  But I know that if he does go into the services, I hope there will be someone out there like me, who will thank him and hug him while he's passing thought the airport. 

And I hope you can come home soon.