This morning I was profoundly humbled by a simple FB message asking if I had investigated a new cancer treatment option. The message came from a friend in Sand Land who was awaiting return to one of the most dangerous places on the planet today.
I am not going identify anyone or anywhere in this post lest some BS military protocol has been inadvertently violated.
My friend flies one of the most advanced war machines the US has brought to bear in the Middle East conflicts- which is to say, he flies a prime target for our enemies on every mission.
I met him when he was a 20 something, well past prime military recruiting age. He was determined to enter the military, graduate flight school and serve our country.
I watched him accomplish his goals, another example of personal success rooted in passion and commitment. He is a man to be admired.
I was present the morning after his blind date with his now wife and I have followed their progress in life. They are a beautiful couple, now a family.
There is a picture from this spring, just prior to his deployment, of him in military dress, holding is infant daughter, standing next to his very pregnant wife. They have welcomed a second daughter into the world. I can infer from FB he was present for her birth or shortly after- encouraging that our military shows a little more compassion these days.
After a brief message exchange, all I could muster was a weak “stay safe”. It felt totally inadequate.
What the hell is a man who risks his life on every mission doing reading about novel cancer treatment and sending me messages? I didn’t even know that he was aware of my situation. He has two babies and a beautiful wife at home who need him to stay focused and get his ass home.
The other piece of my humbling has to do with a dear friend who is never far from my thoughts. She lost her husband in Afghanistan in the early years of the war in an aircraft accident. At the time, it was the largest loss our special forces had suffered- ever. Their daughter was 6 months old. I stay in touch with them and I am comforted knowing they are supported by their military family, it is part of an unwritten code of conduct among our special forces. Honor and duty are real.
Her life was turned upside down but her faith in God sustains her every day. I admire her courage and her faith. I value her friendship and the lessons she teaches her daughter.
I said a prayer for all involved and then I became angry- very angry.
The toppling of a civil war statue in Chapel Hill and the kneeling controversy in the NFL fueled my anger. Yes, the statue was of a confederate soldier, but at least he had the balls to risk his life for something greater than himself. The statue does not celebrate slavery- it is merely a symbol of our history. Our history, good, bad or ugly, is our history. The past, it cannot be undone.
Worse yet are the NFL players who choose an inappropriate forum to protest racism and other inequalities.
To disrespect our flag, to try and re-write history, is a crime. It is selfish. The men and women who serve and who have served are far better people than these players and protesters will ever be. There is something greater than yourself.
Please hold my friends in your prayers- it is the least we can do to honor the sacrifices they have made and continue to make.
God speed my friends- I hope to see you soon.