Wednesday, December 06, 2006

I'm still not over it....

The death of that young Marine from Vesper really got to me yesterday...and continues to do so....

I went to the send-off of our local National Guard Unit a year or so ago and I saw some of the "kids" in Battery B about to go off to the Middle East....some of those "kids" were at my house for pasta feeds before Cross-Country meets and they were there for Saturday Morning breakfasts (pancakes and bacon and orange juice) after early morning "fun runs". They are the same age as my son. They were his contemporaries. And there they were: about to go into harm's way.

I never "did" acid or any other drug for that matter, but what happened to me the day those kids left was like the movie stereotype of a "bad trip". I was overcome with sadness, followed immediately by fear and then immediately by rage, then denial, then comic relief, then all happened in quick time.

It was emotionally exhausting.

Then we spent a year walking around day-to-day wondering if they were in any danger...and quickly blotting it out of your mind.

thank god they all returned safely.

But Lance Corporal Tillery didn't.

Our generation has to figure out how to stop the killing and also how to make us safe in the future and how to make these sacrifices part of a larger picture.....

But I'll be damned if I know how to do that.....

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

His name was Jesse. I didn't know him well. He was tall and lanky and had ivory skin with splashes of freckles, lots of unruly hair the same fire bright red that I had as a youth, and a smile as innocent and pure as you'll find. He was a young man with a deep faith and shy demeanor.

My son married Jesse's only sister. Their 2004 wedding was a big event in our family. My siblings came from Massachusetts, Delaware and California to attend the wedding and have a family reunion of sorts. We all got to Wisconsin up to a week in advance so we could spend time with each other and get to know the bride's family. My niece and Jesse, only a year apart in age, spent a lot of time together. It was a great week.

Jesse joined the Marines right after high school. He knew there was a war and he would likely spend most of his enlistment in Iraq or Afghanistan. Both his brothers were in Iraq and were fine. Most nineteen year olds act and feel invincible anyway.

My first grandchild was due October 23rd. Jesse was excited about becoming an uncle. His orders came in for Iraq. He had to leave October 23rd! His mother wanted to be there when he left, but she wanted to be with her daughter when she gave birth. She finally decided to visit Jesse the week before his departure. Jesse shipped out on October 23 rd and the baby was born October 24th, a beautiful red haired baby boy.

Jesse lost his life in Iraq on December 2nd. It was a roadside bomb. He'd only been in Iraq for six weeks, was 19 years old, was the youngest of the family and greatly loved. He never got to see his nephew. The grief is overwhelming.

When I hear the news announcer keep a tally of how many people from our area, or our State have died, I want to reach through the television and shake him. Jesse was from a tiny town smack-dab in the middle of Wisconsin, yet his death has affected people all over the country. My niece in California is having difficulty dealing with it. My brother that served in Viet Nam is feeling old, familiar pain at the death of someone so young.

The dead are not statistics and numbers. They are people, each with a story to be told. Their sphere of influence was not limited to their local area or their State. As soon as they entered the military, their worlds expanded exponentially. They each touched many lives and are missed by people across the globe.

The men and women serving in the armed forces deserve our appreciation, and when they return in coffins, our utmost respect. Whether you agree or not, they believed they were fighting to preserve the freedoms we all enjoy. They risked and lost their lives for each of you.

So, if for only a moment, set aside your opinions about how or why we got to and remain in Iraq. It doesn't matter who got us there or who underestimated the enemy. Stop bickering and start working together to find a way out of the region. It is a military tactic to get the enemy to fight among themselves to gain the advantage, yet we've done it to ourselves! The longer we argue about what has already happened, the longer it will take to stop the loss of life.

How many more will die while some stand on the classic, "I didn't create the problem, so I'm not going to help fix it." "I didn't vote for Bush, so he can clean up his own mess." "We are only over there for the oil." "We shouldn't have gone in the first place."

STOP!!! None of this matters right now. What matters are the men and women who are losing their very lives while the Democrats stand on what they consider higher moral ground and the Republicans try to find a balance between their private distaste for the war and the party who keeps them employed. Let's just find a solution and get them all home. We won't forget Jesse. You shouldn't either.