Thursday, June 14, 2007


I am by my family's standards, the raging liberal of the bunch. Feed the poor, help the children, give everyone health care, and war is bad. You know, all the typical blue voting mantras.

That last one though, war is bad, is a touchy thing to say. There are a lot of people in this country who have been to war, and they deserve our thanks and our praise.

By no means do I consider myself one to speak on political issues. As much as I don't like George Bush, I respect the opinion of those people who do. Chocolate and vanilla. That's what this country is about. Really, I just wish that he wasn't sending Americans to Iraq and bringing them home in caskets.

There lies the problem though. I struggle with the loathing I have for this current war and the admiration and gratitude that I have for the people who have gone to fight it. It is difficult to resolve, but important to me because my family has a strong military history.

My great uncle was a Coronal in the United States Army. He served through WWII, Korea, and Vietnam. His four Purple Hearts sat in a glass case on the bookshelf behind his recliner, just above his shoulder as though they were at watch over him constantly. His stories could have easily starred John Wayne. When he died 15 years ago, he was laid to rest in Arlington National Cemetary.

Today, his wife finally joined him. Aunt Pam died on May 20. She was cremated, and her ashes have been buried with her husband. On one side of the tombstone is etched his name, rank, the wars he served during, and dates of his life and death. On the other side will be "His wife," her name, and the dates of her life and death.

Aunt Pam's service was modest. There were soldiers to carry her ashes from the car to the grave and another to stand watch as he did so. The soldier that led the service spoke of a passage from Proverbs where God says he loves someone who protects innocent blood. We sang a song. We cried. We touched her urn. And as we were preparing to leave her, we heard the drums.

Just across the way, there was another funeral beginning. This funeral had the honor guard, the drums and bugles, and the flag draped casket was being drawn to the grave by horses. We could see row after row of soldiers in their dress uniforms, standing at attention for the soldier they were about to bury.

I wondered if this was a young soldier who had been serving in Iraq or if it was an older retired soldier who had served in Korea or maybe Vietnam. I wondered if there was a widow or a widower standing there. I wondered if that soldier knew before he died that his sacrifice, whether it be his life, or just the dedication of his life, was appreciated.

As we were leaving, my cousin who lives in D.C. and was also career Army said, "This place has gotten way too busy these days. There are so many funerals everyday."

And the mixed feelings returned. Grief at the losses. Anger at the reasons why. Gratitude for the sacrifices.

There was a post this week that started me thinking about this even before today. You should go over and read it. Watch the video. If you know someone who has served this country, be it now, in the previous Gulf War, in Vietnam, Korea, WWII, or any other time, stop and watch it for them. And if you still have the chance, tell them thank you.