"It is only those who have never heard a shot, never heard the shriek and groans of the wounded ... that cry aloud for more blood, more vengeance, more desolation." --Sherman
A friend arrived home yesterday after a 36 hour trip from an undisclosed location in Afghanistan. He's a reservist who served a short four-plus month hitch this summer. He looked tired, but very glad to be home. No one pressed him to talk about what he saw over there. He volunteered that his base had been attacked just before he got there and one man was killed. He said that he heard the sound of bombs in the distance almost every night. He believed that the period he was there saw the heaviest fighting since our involvement in that region had begun.
Suddenly the reality of the war was brought home. For a number of reasons we don't see nightly clips of the fighting. Our network news seems filled with meaningless fluff about female celebrities going into rehab. Pundits and polemicists handing down pronouncements on stimulus funds, bail-outs, and government spending seem filled with Yeats's passionate intensity. But we see very little about the guy that is actually doing the dirty work.
Whether we're pro-war or anti-war in general, we have to realize that we are involved in a fight with a rural commonality halfway around the world and an enemy that threatened both our security and our way of life. And those fighting for us are our neighbors--regular working people. They don't make the rules, but they do the tough stuff. For the most part, like our friend, they handle their job quietly and competently.
No one knows how long it will take and what price must be paid to achieve a satisfactory level of stability in the world. Looking back at the last century, it's fair to say that somehow we did a lot better in the second half than in the first. War is really Hell. And we're glad that our friend is home safe.
"You will hear of wars and rumors of wars . . ." -- Matthew 24:6