Sunday, September 2, 2012
Mikado Bragg, was a long long way from her hometown of Longview, Washington, when she left us at 21. Matthew Abbate, a son of Hawaii passed away at 26. “Left us” and “passed away” do not do justice to these young people. They were taken from us. They died for me. They died for you.
Scrawled on a wall of a bullet-ridden hovel in a godforsaken zone out in nowhere there is a stark message. It reads, “The Marines are on the front line; America is at the mall.” It's true, you know.
In earlier times young men were drafted into military service. We had no choice. Nowadays men and women volunteer to wear the uniform and thus put themselves in harm's way by choice. Some see this as a “you asked for it” reason to distance themselves from military people. On top of that many American citizens simply do not have a clue what “freedom isn't free” is all about.
War is beyond Hell. Those of us who study military history are repeatedly staggered at the terrible cost in human life and lifelong damage to the spirits of their survivors. During World War One on the very first day of the Battle of the Somme, when Great Britain opened a massive offensive against entrenched Germans, the British casualties alone were in excess of 60,000 soldiers!
That bloodletting battle and so many others are simply incomprehensible to us, so we more or less push them aside. Individual deaths in the line of duty however have greater impact on most of us. But not all.
Corporal Brock Bucklin was one of our own killed in action. His twin brother, Corporal Brad Bucklin, escorted Brock's body back from Iraq on a commercial airline. As their plane taxied to the gate the flight’s captain came on the intercom and told the passengers, “Ladies and gentlemen, we have an American hero on board with us tonight. As a sign of respect please remain seated while we honor Corporal Bucklin and his sacrifice.”
The few moments of delay where Brad Bucklin could escort his brother's remains to a waiting family were lost forever because half of the passengers on the plane got off anyway.
No doubt they were rushing to the mall.