Dead Men Tell No Tales
That headline isn’t meant to be snarky or salacious nor am I making any references to pirates. This time it is simple, the dead tell no tales.
The music above accompanied the post I wrote about the picture.
We were walking through Newark in June of 201o when we saw a group of people staring at something out the window and curiosity made us stop to see what it was they were looking at.
What you can’t see is the casket dressed in an American flag and the mix of soldiers and police surrounding it.
Words will fail to convey the feeling that came over me, the solemnity of a moment unexpectedly shared with strangers passing through an airport.
All I can do is tell you it hurt us to see that casket because we knew somewhere people were waiting to say their final goodbye to a son or daughter whose life was cut short.
But we didn’t know anything about that person. We couldn’t tell you if the world lost an average Joe or the man/woman who would cured cancer or brought peace to the world.
Instead we were left with questions and an urge to hug our children tighter.
The past week or so has seen a significant increase in traffic so I was thinking about ways to try andÂ capitalizeÂ upon it.
Was thinking about what posts would convince the new folks this is a good place to hang their hat and in the midst of tooling around in the archives I came across the post with the picture of the casket and it touched me.
The boy I wrote about here is going to be 15 this year.
When 9/11 hit he played with blocks in front of the television and I watched the towers fall and wondered what the future would hold.
We went back into Iraq when he turned three and I wondered again what that would mean.
I was in college during the first Gulf War and I remember saying goodbye to some of the guys but that was really different.
Not just because we rolled through the country like a hot knife slicing through butter but because when you are a kid in college the future seems endless and you have no real responsibilities.
The second time was different for me and not because of politics but because I looked at my little boy and realized that my parents weren’t ever going to worry about whether I would want to or need to serve.
I was too damn old, my time was done.
If the draft ever came back and grabbed me it was going to be because things had really gone to hell.
Tonight when I thought about that day at Newark and then looked at my son I realized he is three years away from signing up for Selective Service.
I remember when I went and how I feltÂ oldÂ but figured it was no big deal because we weren’t at war and if we happened to go to war I figured I would just enlist because I wanted to support my country.
I Still Support My Country
I still support my country but there is a different approach now because it is not my ass on the line. This time around I am looking at my children and it is just so very surreal.
If they told me they wanted to enlist in one of the branches of the military I don’t know exactly what I would say.
Certainly I would be proud of them but part of me wonders what I would do because the idea of them putting themselves in harms way frightens me.
But I can’t ignore that people do it every day and that someone’s child is out there risking their life for my family. Someone is out there doing what is required to help protect our country.
Soldiers don’t write policy but they sometimes enforce it.
But this isn’t a political post, this is a man thinking out loud about his life and a father thinking about his children.
The moment in the airport obviously stuck with me but this time around it touched me in a different way.
I have the utmost respect for our troops. These men and women deserve our respect.
Tonight I showed my son the picture and asked him if he remembered the moment and he didn’t. I told him it is easy living far away from all the chaos to forget about it.
I told him that when people talk about Iraq and Afghanistan the conversation often turns into a political battle about who did what and what should or should not have happened.
When he asked me to tell him my thoughts I said we would set aside time to have a deeper discussion but summed it up by saying freedom isn’t free and there have been both popular and unpopular wars where people died to help us live as we do today.
And that we should respect the sacrifices they and their families made.
In a few moments I’ll shut off the lights and go to sleep and wonder some more about who was in that casket and what their story was.
Life may be challenging at times, but every day that we keep standing offers us another chance. It is a privilege not everyone gets to enjoy.