Mourning and Honor

Monday, 07 March 2005

Last week a friend of mine bought it in Iraq.

I almost deleted that line. The euphemisms we use. He died. He was killed. An improvised explosive device was detonated near the Humvee in which he was riding and it killed him and another soldier with him. He was not what you might think of as a typical soldier. After taking some time off after high school he had graduated with honors with an English major, and was about to begin graduate school when he up and enlisted in the Army. That was in 2002. Most recently a Specialist, he had been working in logistics somehow, not shooting a gun or firing off a mortar, but primarily shooting out emails and firing off memos. He had a desk job. He was in the wrong place at the wrong time.

And now he’s dead.

I don’t honestly know what the status of his faith was. Honestly, it had been since before he enlisted that we had talked. Already then he was a different guy than the one I’d known before. In futility I’ve wondered about that in these days since.

He must have been the first casualty from his town, because it was big news. I suppose death ought to be.

People need to be allowed to mourn. Mourning is a part of the human experience. With any death there must be mourning. Where there is none there is likewise no understanding of exactly what just happened. Death. A person dies. The body and the soul are ripped apart. This is not some quiet journey into that dark night. Violence is done to the person. The soul leaves and the body rots. It’s not the way things are supposed to be.

I don’t understand mourning in all its shapes, though I know it can be quite irrational. This man’s parents lost in him their only child. Whether out of patriotism or quest for adventure, he chose to serve his country and countrymen in this way. He died in the line of duty. Their response was to stop flying the flag under which he chose to serve and publicly decry the war to anyone who would listen. It honestly breaks my heart to hear a man’s parents dishonor his death in such a way. It simply cheapens his death.

Death is tragic. It’s even more so when it happens suddenly, unexpectedly. This man chose to wear a uniform to fight for those who could not or would not fight for themselves. There is honor in that.

It’s no crime to disagree with one’s government or its policy. There are ways to do it without dishonoring the fallen. I’ve got more thoughts but can’t catch them now. More later.