Last week I mentioned that I have been sending friend messages to my high school classmates on Facebook. After 38 years away from Stoneham, I am missing my childhood home in a way I never thought I would. I suppose getting homesick in Iraq is about as surprising as getting thirsty in a desert.
Today I got a brief message from one of my high school classmates thanking me for getting in touch and asking me to Google his son. His son was killed in action in Baghdad in 2006. I read the many messages from his friends and family on the memorial web site. Seems clear from the messages he was a good soldier and a good man also. He was 22.
Before I went through the pre-deployment processing and training for this trip, I made three visits to Brooke Army Medical Center, which everyone refers to as BAMC--pronounced BAM-See. BAMC is the treatment and rehabilitation center for those who lose limbs. I was in San Antonio for four days, had some free time and thought I ought to go and see what this war really costs.
I talked to parents at BAMC. But they are different than the parents of the dead. Even when their child is maimed, he or she is alive. The parents of the dead have only memories. I have other friends who have lost children. Two men in our unit lost children during this deployment. I went to one of the funerals when I was home on leave.
Part of what we are here for is to comfort each other when we face grief. On this day after Thanksgiving, I am very thankful for four healthy children. And I will put the grieving parents I know at the top of my prayer list.