I was searching around for something to say about Veteran's Day and appreciating the troops and war is hell and and and... anyway, this is it.
"My memories of the last war haunted my dreams for years. Military service, to be plain, includes the threat of every temporal evil; pain and death, which is what we fear from sickness; isolation from those we love, which is what we fear from exile; toil under arbitrary masters, which is what we fear from slavery: hunger, thirst, and exposure, which is what we fear from poverty. I'm not a pacifist. If it's got to be it's got to be. But the flesh is weak and selfish, and I think death would be much better than to live through another war."- CS Lewis.
My father has, for the last few years, been working in a military hospital as a psychologist. I used to look at veterans and simply think they were courageous, and wish I could be as proud of something that I did as they might be of what they did.
Now I'm both horrified and in awe. The stories my dad has told me have made me wonder how anyone could keep their sanity after serving in Iraq and Afghanistan. It's not just the horror of seeing your buddies die. It's knowing that any kid who asks you for candy could be wired with an IED. Knowing that any child who "accidentally" wanders out in front of your moving tank could be preparing to blow it up and himself in the process. Seeing those children die, for the lies adults have told them. Knowing that the opposition actually believes that it is worth it to murder these children and other civilians, all in order to take you out. Knowing that your very presence attracts these things, and yet knowing that you must do your job or more innocents, and more of your buddies, will die.
I don't wish I had served in the military anymore. My admiration for veterans, though, has grown by exponents. The vets of Iraq and Afghanistan have fought and died to try and restore some kind of justice, however misguided the original government intentions. I hope I can make the world they fought for better in my own way.