Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Unsung Hero (12/07/06)
By Tim George
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Can’t find any heroes? Consider the men and women who daily place their lives on the line thousands of miles from home simply because their country said they were needed. Young men who lead convoys over IED laden roads wondering if the next intersection may be their last. Consider, they do this while escorting journalist (many driven more by personal ideology than professional integrity) ensuring their safety all the time knowing they will never tell the whole story.
See a Platoon Sergeant pinned down south of Baghdad, back to back with a young officer wondering if the night will ever end or rescue will ever come. Wondering if he will ever embrace the child he left a baby. If he will once again feel the warm brush of the lips of the one he kissed goodbye a few weeks and an eternity ago. Not knowing that in a few months he will receive the Bronze Star and a heroes’ welcome home. Not caring, because for him there is no tomorrow, only today. Not caring, because one of his brothers has just fallen before his eyes never to rise again.
Consider there is no need to go as far as the dusty roads of Iraq. See a mother as she smiles and nods as some well meaning and equally misguided person lectures her on the reason we shouldn’t be fighting over there in the first place. Feel the burn in her heart as she thinks of her youngest child baking in the desert sun as her companion prattles on from the comfort of their air conditioned office.
Or consider the father of that young man as he watches the news; his stomach churning as he endures the drivel of the talking heads. He only tolerates their educated idiocy because he hopes to find some crumb of information that might tell him what is really happening. He listens to the rants of University professors chiding the president for sending “our boys” over there. All the time knowing those aren’t “their boys”. This is “his boy”.
Haven’t found any heroes yet? Peek through the window and see a young mother pointing to a picture of daddy to her two year old. She is trying to find some normalcy in life when there is none. Her husband has spent first a year watching North Korean soldiers light their cigarettes across the DMZ and now nearly another year escorting convoys across the entire length of Iraq. And they have not even been married four years.
No heroes yet? See that couple struggling to reconnect now that he is home. Imagine them forging a relationship and restoring intimacy when time and circumstance have done their best to rip them apart. Slip inside his thoughts in the middle of the night and hear the screams of fallen brothers and the curses of the enemy. Slip inside hers as she wonders who this man is that has come home.
Now consider this. You pass these people every day often without realizing it. That young man with a buzz cut and a faraway look in his eye as he sits alone in the park. That coworker who grows strangely quiet when lunch talk turns to criticism of things those talking know little about. That young mother in the mall pushing a stroller and closing her cell phone. She looks like anyone else to you but she has just said goodbye to her husband eight thousand miles away for the twentieth time. Wondering if she will ever speak to him again.
There are heroes all around us. We’re practically swimming in them. Perhaps President Reagan was right. We’re just not looking.
The author’s son recently returned from a year in Iraq serving as a Convoy Commander in the United States Army. He was awarded the Bronze Star for exceptional service. His command vehicle was destroyed and he nearly lost his life on the southern edge of Baghdad. Two embedded reporters from CBS were killed in the attack.
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