As I write this, it is September 11, 2004, three years
after that horrible day that changed many of our lives forever--certainly
our sense of security. I fell asleep last night listening to the TV on CNN
as they talked about the threat of Hurricane Ivan to Florida, and I was thinking
of how many families will have to rebuild after the devastation of the third
hurricane in a month's time. I must confess I didn't realize what day it
When I awoke this morning, I awoke to the reading of the
names by parents and grandparents, each person reading off a list of about
15-20 names and ending it with "and my son..." I had some kleenex by my bedside
because I have a bad cold--I didn't expect to be using it to dab my eyes.
Yes, a lot of lives were lost on 9/11, over 3,700 if I
remember correctly, and another 1,000 American lives have been lost as the
result of the war that we are fighting supposedly in its response.
Above I have a picture of the front window of a car dealership
near where I live, Clyde Revord Motors in Everett, WA. Although I know nothing
of them as a car dealership, they always have paintings on their windows
that are worth noting, especially in tribute of good people who just passed--Katherine
Hepburn, John Ritter, Johnny Cash...
Pat Tillman is a perfect subject for the window right
now. He had millions of dollars, a career he loved, thousands of adoring
fans, and he walked away from it all for what he believed was his duty. Now,
as an athlete, he could probably have gotten any duty he wanted--entertaining
the troops, for example. But no, not only did he walk away from the money
and the adoration, he did it to serve on the front line, and in doing so,
he became one of the thousand plus who have given their life.
While I do not agree with the war, I absolutely support
our troops--I do believe this is possible and necessary. The thousands of
Pat Tillmans over there, rich and poor, who gave up their livelihoods--whether
football players or factory workers--are doing what they believe is right
and good for our nation and they deserve our respect and admiration. It is
their duty to win whatever battles they must fight, while it is equally our
duty to do what we can to bring them back home alive.
Vietnam was a horrible tragedy for our nation. There were
thousands of Pat Tillmans over there, as well, people who gave up their lives
and livelihoods to fight a war they may or may not have agreed with, either
by choice or by luck of the draw (the draft). When they were there, they
did what they had to, and if and when they returned, they returned not as
heroes, but as outcasts.
People who did not support that war, people who felt as
I do today, made the mistake of judging the troops by the war they did not
start. Our troops were not supported, but reviled. They came home to find
a country that hated them. They came home bearing the physical and emotional
scars of battle. Many sought refuge in addictions, suffered the effects of
untreated mental illness, wound up populating our streets and our prisons
when no longer welcome at home.
Our war in the Middle East today has the backing of patriotic
fervor, but that does not necessarily make it any easier for them over there.
Even popular wars are hell, and when they come back they will need our support--emotionally,
physically, spiritually, and quite possibly medically and psychiatrically.
If we want to support our troops, we need to do so by persuading our government
to let them come home and making sure they have access to services they need,
services that have not been eliminated or underfunded by the latest budget