Thursday, November 11, 2010

Happy Veteran's Day Bro

I'm going to take a detour today. Usually I visit fun, out-of-the-way places and report back to you from the figurative road. But because today is Veteran's day, I'm going to pull over and reflect on one of the greatest blessings I've been granted--the safe return of my brother from two tours of duty in Iraq.

I don't come from a military family. I'm a gen X-er which means I was born too late to appreciate or understand Vietnam as it was happening. War is a completely foreign concept to me...or it was. My bro's enlistment exposed my family and I to a whole new reality and culture.

This would be a truly interesting and educational blog entry if I could tell you what it's like to be a Marine and what it's like to experience combat conditions. Unfortunately, I can't. My bro doesn't talk a lot about it, but he did tell me about hearing the sirens, yanking on his gas mask as he hit the floor of the bunker, lying in the dust and wondering what the inhale of each breath would bring.

I had intended to share a little civilian perspective, but I find it's hard to write about my personal fears and thoughts without sounding too maudlin. It takes a better writer than I. But I'll summarize by saying I still remember those anxious hours, days, months, years--listening to the news, hearing about the casualties, knowing which divisions had suffered losses, and begging God on my knees, 'please not him.'

I know that's not fair to ask. My bro came home. My family was incredibly fortunate. I know that God was listening to my prayers. But what if he hadn't come home safely? What if he hadn't come home at all? Would that mean that God wasn't listening? No. I know that God would have solaced my family and I; it would not have been the end of my bro's adventures and service. He, and we, would have gone on.

But for each family who has lost someone, please know that every time the news makes that announcement, I stop and shed a tear. I think of you, whoever you are, and I get on my knees again and ask God to comfort you.

My bro is one of the most compassionate people I know. He has a great appreciation for beauty. He has a strong sense of courage and amazing mental and physical discipline and endurance. It takes all of these qualities to experience suffering, fear and violence and still retain your humanity.

Bro, I'm so glad your home. I'm so proud. And this is coming from your flower-loving sister with slightly hippie-ish tendencies.

Thank you to all of the veterans and active service men and women who combine courage and discipline with humanity to become heroes we can really look up to.


  1. Thank you, Elisa, for posting this--I second everything that you have said--and thank you, David, for being the person that you are. It is remarkable that a pure soul like our brother could go through that experience and return a pure soul, with optimism and joy and hope. Thank you, David, I rely on your strength more than you know. My prayers go to those who are still on active duty, to those families who are still waiting anxiously at home the way that we were, and those who have lost.

  2. Elisa, Thank you for this post. It brought tears to my eyes and gratefulness to my heart!

  3. These comments about David, and the military are wonderful. I am sharing it with some of our friends, and know they will be touched like I am. David is a young man I have always loved and admired, and yes, I am thankful he is home. Our son in the Air Force spent tours in Iraq, and your heart is so aware of all the young men and women that give their protection to our country. There are not enough words to express my respect and thankfulness to them.