Tag Archives: war

Summer Roses (for LKB)

(I realize this is not a comprehensive analysis of our country’s involvement in world conflict. It’s not supposed to be. If you’re here to beat me over the head for my ignorance of the current state of nation, please be nice. I already have a headache. Thanks muchly.)

The sweet smell of summer roses permeates the air surrounding the ranks of soldiers, none of whom are now able to appreciate the fragrance.

The silence, overwhelmingly loud, throbbing inside my head, merges with the cannon salute to another soldier being laid to rest on sacred ground, finally finding peace after finishing his last mission–perhaps last week, or last year, or sometime during the last century.

The history of a young nation, spread out across rolling hills dotted with shade trees; soldiers assembled for battle, their plain white crosses marking their graves in perfect alignment from any vantage point.

The timeline of the wars that, in one way or another, define us as a nation, represented in this place….

The American Civil War: brothers fighting brothers, fathers fighting sons, great military minds who were educated in military tactics together as young men, friends who became enemies, only to come back together after the conflict ended, again showing respect to each other as equals.

The Spanish-American War: Teddy Roosevelt, the charge up San Juan hill, the creation of another new nation, the Phillipines.

World War I: the war to end all wars.

World War II: the result of a nation’s flawed trust in a megalomaniac, the war of unspeakable acts of evil perpetrated against an enemy whose only offense was their race, or their physical conditions, the creation of an ultimate weapon, and the subsequent Cold War that ensued as enemies began to stockpile enough weapons to destroy all life on Earth many times over.

The Korean War

The Vietnam War: the nightly body count read on the CBS evening news by Walter Cronkite, and the fear that my uncle or one of his friends could be called up for duty, based on a random number assignment.

Operation Desert Storm

Operation Enduring Freedom: punishment meted out on an enemy who dared attack us on our own soil, the creation of yet one more day seared into the collective mindset of the American people. Where were you on 9/11?

Operation Iraqi Freedom: the removal of a brutal dictator, another megalomaniac who slaughtered hundreds of thousands of his own citizens.

Do you remember “Shock and Awe”?

I confess to being shocked and in awe of this place and these people.

I am shocked by the sheer vastness in numbers of men and women who sacrificed themselves to protect my country, my freedom, my family, ME.

I am in awe at the realization that a great many of these men and women made this offering, the ultimate sacrifice, willingly, voluntarily.

I will never, ever experience the sweet smell of summer roses in quite the same way again. I am changed by the experience of a cool breeze on a hot summer’s day, blowing the aroma of a simple flower across my face. I breathe it in, where it finds its way to the deepest recesses of my mind and soul, taking up permanent residence as a constant reminder of the true price of freedom.

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taking care of business

In February of 1999 my grandfather was diagnosed with mesothelioma. He endured one round of chemotherapy, said “enough” and went home. My sweet parents, aunts, uncles and cousins, along with a wonderful hospice organization, took care of him while he took care of business. He spent quite a bit of time those last few weeks helping my mom make sure everything was in order, that his wife, children and family were taken care of. Grandpa knew how to take care of business.

Seven years ago today our country was viciously attacked by people who hate us. They aren’t interested in trying to understand our way of life. They aren’t interested in trying to persuade us to understand their way of life. They hate America and everything it represents. This is war, and the only way to deal with it is to defend ourselves from it, to make sure that our children are safe. And if defending our country means that we go on the offensive, take the war to their turf, then we go. We take care of business.

My little girl is supposed to be in biology class at this moment. She’s next to me, on the couch, asleep. She decided last spring to sign up for Air Force JROTC this year. It’s been a tough week in JROTC class. They had the option of watching a National Geographic documentary on the events of September 11, 2001. She chose to watch most of. We’ve never hidden the truth of what happened from her. She knew people jumped to their deaths. She had seen pictures and heard stories. But studying the events in school brought them to life for her in a new and frightening way. She got up this morning and put on her uniform, all without saying a single word. She does that sometimes, gets up and goes about her business without saying anything. Her dad asked her one morning if she was ok and she said, “Just because I get up early doesn’t mean I’m a MORNING person!” Bless her little heart.

Anyway, I started asking the mommy questions, trying to get to the root of the problem.

Do you feel sick? No. I didn’t sleep good last night.

Do you have a test? No.

Is someone picking on you? No. I just want to stay home with you today.

A little tear slipped down her cheek. So, I thought, is this something relational, since she teared up when I mentioned another person?

She is missing her big brother terribly since he went to college. Last night, after she went to bed, he stopped by for a few minutes. She’d seen him at church earlier. She knew he was coming, but she just couldn’t stay awake long enough to visit with him at home later.

Are you missing your brother? Yes.

Many more tears.

OK, this is something we know, but she hasn’t been this upset about it, and hasn’t wanted to stay home from school because of it. So far, she’s enjoying high school.

Think, think, think.

Is this about September 11?

Unconsolable tears.

Mom, last year they didn’t even mention it at school. Not a minute of silence. Not anything. Please, can I stay home?

So, we snuggled up and took a nap. We munched on cookies and watched TV. She loves Animal Planet.

It’s chilly here today so she’s wrapped up in a quilt, snoozing on the couch.

Tomorrow she’ll go back to school, and I’ll have to answer to the school authorities as to why she stayed home today. We’ll take our little war to their turf. We won’t have a doctor’s note, we’ll have a mommy’s note that will say:

My daughter needed me, so I took care of business.