Our Soldiers Have Names
My father served in the Air Force for over twenty years.
I had an uncle, a brother, who served in the Navy, the Army.
I grew up listening to planes take off and land, night and day.
Fatigue green, saluting officers, chain of command, dress blues.
I wore an MIA bracelet for three years, high school and college,
And could not understand why so few people wore them.
That was a long time ago….
America has engaged in wars since then, is fighting right now.
There are men and women still coming home in caskets,
still coming home with grievous wounds, we all know that.
I do my part, donate to the vets, write letters, send care packages,
angrily sign petitions demanding that our soldiers, who train,
leave family behind, fight and bleed, even die for our country –
receive the best medical care our country can provide.
Frequently, I forward pictures of our soldiers.
Yesterday I forwarded an intensely moving picture.
A man kneeling next to a veteran in a wheelchair,
thanking him for his courage, his service.
I shared it with friends and family.
In moments, a friend, her husband a retired Army officer,
wrote back; they knew the soldier in the wheelchair.
She knew his name, his history, they were colleagues and friends.
Suddenly, tears poured down my face.
The man became real to me . . . as my friend’s friend.
We forget, I forget, that these soldiers served alongside other soldiers.
To me they are certainly heroes and patriots and I honor them…
but to those who know them, they are dear friends and trusted buddies.
They are not isolated individuals, but members of families, of communities,
with mothers and fathers, brothers and sisters, wives and children.
Our memories of who they are, their service, their sacrifice,
their lives, before and after, need to be so much more specific.
We should all know, really know, who we grieve for and who we honor.
Theresa Lynn Ast