9-11 is here again and we all tend to think back to that day and What I Was Doing When The Towers Fell. Yet the consequence of what changed that day was not fully known until about 2 years later when a whole army of troops entered the war zone that our enemy came from.
I vividly remember that particular day, in March of 2003, because I had just celebrated the happiest day of my life: my wedding day, and I felt almost guilty that I could be enjoying such happiness and bliss while other wives were saying goodbye to husbands they'd never see again. It's almost sad to realize that every time we celebrate our wedding anniversary, our nation commemorates another kind of anniversary, The War on Terror.
Have you ever read the news and found an article about troops heading into Iraq or Afghanistan or North Korea or some place where bullets fly and bombs explode? I'm sure you have. You can find those articles anywhere and if you miss today's edition, tomorrow will likely have something new about the war anyway.
Did you ever think twice about it when you saw a line of soldiers ready to take off on their mission? Did you ever just think in the back of your mind that it was their choice; they chose to be on the battle field so "what's the big deal" and then quickly scanned the page for another article? Did you ever think twice about a soldier going to war?
If you're like me, probably not. Soldiers are made for war. Why act surprised or sad when you hear of a whole troop of them boarding a plane and heading to a war torn foreign country? We all know that's their job.
I used to not really think about it. I mean, I appreciated the fact that soldiers and military personnel were always on duty protecting my national freedom and life as I know it but I never felt very personal about news stories I'd read or hear. I would hear about the President sending more troops over and just assume he was getting the job done faster. I'd read about a soldier being killed and feel bad but then forget about him as soon as I turned the newspaper over. It was just the way things were and I was glad I didn't have to think about it.
But that all changed one day.
Now, every time I hear about more troops going over, more problems in the middle east, more battles being fought, my ears perk up. I think twice. My heart gets heavy and I look a little closer at the pictures of those men. I now realize that each soldier on the battlefield represents an entire family. A circle of friends. A unit of people. People that are praying for and worrying about that one soldier. A mother stays up nights praying for them. A father reads the news and hopes the critics aren't right in their prediction about the war. A wife fears for the safety of her husband that she won't see for another 10 months, at least.
I never really thought much about the news reports that would blast over the radio about another explosion in Baghdad. I mean, that seems to happen all the time there, right? But now, I won't be able to listen to a report like that without wondering who was killed and if I knew him.
And counting the days until he comes home.
And wishing that the newspaper would write more about the war and the facts that are happening constantly around the bunkers of that soldier I know.
War is hard. And war is real. But, when your little brother heads into it, you realize just how hard and real war really is. And how sad it makes your life.
But, yet how grateful you can feel knowing that your country's national freedom is being defended because your little brother is some place far from home where bullets fly. Where bombs explode. Where wrong is right.
And he's there in that battlefield, with that whole troop of brave men, so that you can stay free. So that your backyard is safe. You enjoy a grassy lawn while he disintegrates mine fields from one of those giant Humvee trucks. Because his dream is that someday that minefield will be a grassy slope. With carefree children playing freely without the danger of evil men producing death and destruction on their innocent lives. Children as innocent as mine will enjoy freedom someday too because someone brave made their home a safe place.
As if it wasn't already going to be bad enough having a loved one in a war zone, my loving and normally-laid-back-and-anti-trouble-causing-sister, went and fell in love and married a soldier scheduled to go over the same time our brother is. I now fully understand the seriousness of 'having all your eggs in one basket,' so to speak.
So, when most couples are enjoying the honeymoon phase of marriage, this couple will be parted because of the cost of freedom. A freedom I will never take for granted, ever again.
That's what war is to me.