Sunday, December 19, 2010

WAR. What is it good for?

I haven't been posting a whole lot, as you may have noticed, because I've been using Facebook so much. However, this blog is the perfect medium for this topic. I don't want EVERYONE to see my honest opinions - only the chosen few whom I know and trust!

I'm from a small town. The population is MAYBE 3,000. Recently, a 21-year-old soldier from Ronan was severly wounded when he came upon an IED. His left leg was amputated at the hip, his right leg was amputated at the knee. He also lost all of the fingers on his left hand. His family has started a Facebook page for him and the pictures of him in the hospital are pretty shocking. And they didn't even show the main injuries, thankfully.

I don't know this soldier personally, but I know his family. I graduated with his cousin. I talked with her and she is deeply saddened by all of this, naturally. So even though I don't know him, I joined the Facebook group page. The family is very excited that there are almost 1300 group members. They feel loved and encouraged, which is exactly the point.

I am feeling so conflicted about the whole thing. So many of the sentiments are hero-focused: You are my hero. I don't know you, but I look up to you. You are the town hero. You are a true hero. My cousin/brother/friend/dad is in Afghanistan too and you're all my heroes. It's because of you I have freedom.

You get the picture.

And I don't disagree with these sentiments. I really don't. He IS a hero.

He was awarded a purple heart yesterday. The head guy in the marines (can you tell I DON'T have a military background??) came to the hospital and personally presented it to him. There were several pictures on the FB page. All the comments were very supportive: You're amazing! Way to go! Congratulations!

Here's the problem I'm having. Why are we celebrating such a tragedy. Here's this young man who was a wrestler in high school and had a penchant for coaching it even. I guess he was on a tenuous path in high school until about his junior year and he turned himself around. He has pictures on FB from just this May where he was at an amusement park, living life to its fullest.

Then he got sent to Afghanistan. Apparently, U.S. soldiers do a lot of foot patrol there. The Afghani soldiers know this so there are thousands of IEDs, so much so that CBS recently did a story about the large numbers of wounded soldiers, specifcally amputees, coming out of Afghanistan.

Why? Can someone tell me? Why are we there??

I mean the specific reasons. I've already heard that our soldiers are fighting for our freedom, but I don't see that in this case. How is getting blown up in Afghanistan protecting me from another 9/11 IF that is even a valid reason for starting this war.

I'm no war strategist - not by any stretch of the imagination - but couldn't we operate on the DEFENSE rather than the offense? I mean, if a group or country from Afghanistan moves onto our soil in a defensive way, then we'll fight back. I understand that a LITTLE more than this. We are invading this country, scaring their citizens, killing and maming our soldiers, and at the very least, changing the destiny of the young men and women fighting.

From the sounds of it, the soldier from my home town is a fighter. He's tough. He's resillient. He's not one to get stuck in the mire. He is the life of the party and doesn't let much get him down. I'm sure his outlook on life will help him through the journey and what people are saying is true: God DOES have a plan for his life. But a "bigger" plan? That's what so many of them are saying. Is losing limbs a bigger plan?

There is an element here of "we're experiencing this tragedy, we have to make some kind of sense of it or we'll go crazy so we'll say it's better, we'll reward it, we'll box it in a container marked 'meant to be.'" Maybe then it won't hurt so much. I get that. I totally get that. We all DO that.

I just can't bring myself to celebrate something that I find so senseless.