I served in the US Army for 4 years during the first Persian Gulf War. I never saw the war. It started and ended while I was in Basic Training. I do not regret missing it and I did not fear going. The former is what it is and the latter was probably youthful ignorance and hormones. Either way I enlisted in the Army in part because I felt it was an obligation I owed my country. I do not feel that it is something that should be forced and if I had been drafted as opposed to volunteering, I would have considered dodging the draft. I was born as Vietnam was at its peak. I grew up with mixed ideas of military service.
This is all a preface to introduce a completely different topic. Many of my brothers and sisters in the military (I've been out for 12 years, but still feel a connection for whatever reason and with or without a justification) are paying a massive price to fight an ongoing war on terror and a war in Iraq (technically not a war but something else as our President was not man enough to have it truly classified as a war).
Regardless, they are paying a price and just like in many wars past these soldiers, many of which are young only 18 or 20 or 22 or 25 are losing their lives. Now, when I enlisted when I was seventeen and had to wait until I turned 18 to actually go to Basic Training. I served for 4 years and was out shortly after turning 22. I aged more in those 4 years than I did in the 10 years that followed (the last 2 years are a different story filled with Chinese Mafia types operating a business in downtown Atlanta Georgia under the watchful eye of the Department of Justice and the IRS, who have so far done nothing to thwart their 'business') but I digress.
These soldiers are losing their lives and we the people are missing out on an opportunity to share in the wisdom and experience that they have received in the last few years of their lives where they are aging rapidly and gaining experiences unlike anything they have received so far and unlike any that most of us will ever experience directly.
I was reading a story by a fellow blogger named skeet, that talks about Sgt. John Howard Bailey, one of the fallen heroes from the Viet Nam War. She wears a bracelet in memory of Sgt. Bailey but is not related to this fallen soldier nor did she know him.
Her story about him made me ponder if there is not a way that we can help soldiers to capture their story, capture their wisdom, their dreams and desires. Many of them will pay a terrible price and there is no way that we can ever cover that bill. Remembering them only accomplishes so much, however it is the least we can do to help their memory live on. Possibly more important however, if we can share their lessons learned, gain some small nugget of the wisdom they have fought for, and apply some of those lessons as we perform an after action review in their wake, we might learn just enough to decrease the price just a little bit for the next group of soldiers that heed the call and are sent off to do our bidding and defend our country.
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