A storm is whipping up outside of her window.
In her mind-thunder is gunshots.
Bang! Bang! Bang!
“My husband,” her heart cries out. “Where is my husband?”
The lightning is the flash of the last grenade he’ll ever see
and in its unholy light she sees not Thor, god of Thunder,
nor Zeus but a man. A human man,
ripped and ragged and bleeding out on the hard packed dirt
waiting on the doorstep of Hades’ palace
silently pleading his death-cry for entry.
Back home-he has a daughter.
Next week she’ll be two and in a few months
she’ll be eight.
When he gets his weekly phone call she’s twelve
and by the time his letter arrives she’s seventeen years old
and her mother is chasing out her hippie-ass dreadlocked peace loving boyfriend
at three o’clock in the morning.
That little girl-
she’ll never date a boy in ROTC because he reminds her too much of her daddy.
And at thirty she’ll admit she’d rather he’d come home with a bum leg and a wounded psyche
because at least it would have meant that he came home at all.
And ten years from now she’ll be telling her three kids and second husband-
“Your grandfather was a good man.
He wasn’t around when I was a kid but I am proud
because it’s because of him and his friends that we are free.”
We are free. I am free. You are free.
And in the minds of the men that lay down their lives
in a land that is not their home
that is a price worth paying.
So next time somebody comes home in a body bag with a folded flag,
you thank them. You thank their families.
And if you see them on the streets in uniform
you thank them.
Because their lives are at risk
so that you can live free.
Their lives might end at any time-
Leaving behind husbands. Wives. Children. Siblings. Parents. Family and loved ones.
All left behind because they gave their lives
so that you can go to school.
So that you can speak English.
So that you can complain about having to learn about military history.
So that you can live by the rights
stated in the constitution when this country was formed.
Remember that next time you see them.
Thank them because it’s not “cool.”
It’s not “Yolo.”
It is blood. It is guts. It is war out there kids
and they are facing it so that
you don’t have to.
So show some appreciation and respect
and while you’re at it- try a little gratitude.