INCOMING HOME FOR THE HOLIDAYS
Last year's Christmas in Mosul, 2005
photo by Buck Sargent
Not only are they commemorated by columns and inscriptions, but there dwells also an unwritten memorial of them, graven not on stone but in the hearts of men.
On the last night I spent in Baghdad, an unusually large and noisome enemy shell impacted a few hundred meters away while I was otherwise indisposed in a portajohn. With the thin plastic walls shaking more violently than my bowels, I contemplated the possible snarky headlines:
Insurgents Catch Troops With Their Pants Down... Literally!
If I die on a combat throne...
Wipe my six and ship me home...
Yet here I am just over a month later, sitting at the kitchen table on a beautiful Christmas morning at my parents home in Austin with my wife and family. Life is good.
But as thankful as I am to be surrounded by my loved ones at this time of the year, I won't forget the men who were escorted home before us to a hero's welcome and a family's sorrow. In prior wars, they've been described as the men who "didn't make it back," but in this day and age we all return home one way or the other.
Nor will I forget the men and women who are spending the holidays in Iraq or Afghanistan. I've been there, done that, fellas. I know what you're going through. To the ones convalescing at Walter Reed: thankfully for my own family, I can't begin to imagine what you are going through. But I'm thinking of you all the same, and praying for your speedy recovery.
As should we all be on this Christmas day.