Sunday, December 6, 2009

Seeing faces

Earlier this week, my city started placing American flags every few feet along the main street of our town. Tomorrow morning, a local National Guard unit is leaving for their deployment, and the community is gathering first at the high school football stadium and then along the streets to send them off as their convoy drives through town. In the last week, I've worked with at least six brides to be who moved their wedding dates from a few months away to the next couple of weeks. Their fiances', who are serving in different branches of the active military and National Guard, will all be deployed overseas by the end of the year.

The surge in troops is part of an exit plan, but it cannot be seen solely in terms of strategy. It holds thousands of faces and touches even more lives. Our troops deserve to know that we, as fellow citizens, friends and family, respect their service. They deserve to know that our government will support them better than it has shown itself to do. I can't seem to join in the flag waving though.

When I see all these flags, I feel somber. I wonder how many of those beautiful young women I've worked with will be widows before they know what it's really like to be a wife. I wonder how many funerals I'll either attend or know of that will make me think back to this week.

I have no answers to this violent mess. I'm too disquieted to even work up the years old righteous outrage about this war. This is what is on my mind: There have been 4,687 coalition deaths,
including 13 civilian Department of Defense employees. 31, 575 U.S. troops have been wounded in action. 40, 000 troops have been diagnosed with PTSD, and it is feared that many others are hiding this illness.

There will never be an end to war unless the entire human race is transformed, and I just don't see that happening anytime soon. That doesn't absolve my lack of answers, and it doesn't ease the feeling of impotence I have about my prayers for peace and safety. The least I can do is remember some of the real cost of this war and treat it seriously. I won't be waving a flag tomorrow morning. I don't know if I'll be on the main road of my town tomorrow morning, but I do know that these men and women will be in my mind and heart.

Originally posted at
Sorting The Pieces.


Lisa :-] said...

Thank you for posting this here, Cynthia. It so exactly matches my feelings about war and those who serve...

Kathy said...

I would not be able to wave a flag as they went off to war, although I understand the show of support.

I would be able to wave a flag to welcome them home.

And every day I wish I could do something ... more.

Humanity isn't really very human any more. It's sad and scary.

JACKIE said...

I could say that it might help if those of us who claim to be Christians would practice what we preached. Until I ran across a quote from a Norman knight from say the 13th century in an essay of Thomas Merton's. The list of exceptions to his somewhat righteous promise to fairly peaceful left even the curmudgeonly monk a little speechless.

He was still trying to figuare out what kind risk an armed and heavily armored knight would run from gentlewomen or nuns?????????

It seems to be bred in the bone and I'm as clueless as everybody else.