Everybody and their trained dog is posting today, 9/11. Here’s my contribution to the internet chaos.
Remember watching those planes fly into those buildings? Remember the firemen, and the jumpers, and blood, and terror on the faces of the running people?
In the days after the attack, did you, like me, report an abandoned Hello Kitty backpack or study squinty-eyed fellow-passengers on a cross-country flight or two?
Okay. Go back to that day, sitting in your arm chair watching that blue, blue sky and knowing your world was never going to be the same.
Now, put yourself on the ground in the smoke and terror. Right there. Sleep in that building, accept the fact that a mortar might just carry you to Jesus in your sleep.
Wake up to find the same groundhog’s day blood and carnage and insane destruction. Do that over and over and over until a year has gone by. Rest up a few months. Go back again. Into the carnage.
Now. Understand a little better the young man beside you at Walmart who twitches and startles when you push too close to him, the man in traffic who looks up to see dark shapes in windows and shakes and grips the steering wheel so tight his hands hurt for days afterward, the man who flies into a rage at any lack of control in his environment be it a child late for an appointment or a wife who insists they eat in a restaurant with no exit path.
My Life with a Wounded Warrior was released on Amazon about a week ago. One week. And half-a-dozen people have emailed me to say, “Thank you. I never thought about how these returning soldiers feel. I just figured they’d be happy to be home and get on with their lives.”
For the most part, our warriors, the men and women who fight our wars and police actions and are the living stick we shake at dictators–these young people do not want us to know what they’ve been through. The sheepdog protects the sheep. The dogs of war don’t want the flock to know the bloody fangs of the wolf.
I’m here say that if we send these men and women into war, if we put them in the path of the wolf again and again, then we owe it to them to understand the true costs of our decisions. And, we cannot expect sheepdogs to act like sheep. Remember 9/11. Remember how your heart beat faster and your world, for a few weeks there, made no sense. Now remember the men and women we send to hunt down the wolves.