In Memory Of
Personal piece, Memorial Day Weekend, 2008
An acquaintance of mine who recently returned from Afganistan explained to me the often bottomless sense of loss and disconnect that soldiers feel when trying to reconcile the world they've experienced with the relativley superficial and petty existence of everyday life in the states.
As much as they want to rejoin "normal" society, their eyes have been opened to a level of life and suffering that most of us actively suppress in order to maintain our comfort zone. This is not meant as a criticism of our everyday lives, but rather as a reminder that the casualties of war go far beyond life and limb. I do suspect that this crisis is directly related to how much we as a society engage with the reality of the wars in Iraq and Afganistan. What is lost by many is a belief in the value of their very existence previous to their service in combat. The worlds are so different, so how could they both represent reality. For some, they cannot both be true.
When we look at the numbers, it seems that the chasm is widening and deepening. For a growing number of those who have served our country in honor that gap is too far to bridge. When pressed about what we can do, the simple answer was to reach-out to these vets and listen to their stories. Close the gap by letting them know that on some level they are not alone in knowing what they now do about the wider world that we live in. Often vets worry about protecting their friends and family from the harshness they've experienced but this is thought to be the first step towards isolation.
What will I do? Remember them. And then I'll go and hug my children. I'll try to keep my eyes open to the world and remember what I see in the hope that the collective knowing of the truth about these events will in some way make us less and less interested in sacrificing so much beauty, life, and innocence in the future.