Sustained Wounds

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Happy Veterans’ Day to men and women who have served.

Several years ago, I watched a news special filmed by a reporter who traveled with soldiers stationed in the cold mountains of Afghanistan. I saw a soldier wailing because his friend had just been killed in action the night before. While he sobbed he stood on a small cliff, rifle in his hands, watching for the enemy to attack again.

I often wonder how that soldier is doing now. Did he come home? Did he get hurt? If he never engaged in another battle, he still carried trauma in his heart and mind, and chances are that he will never speak of it, at least to the civilian world.

Men and women come home from the war with varied wounds, many of which are on the inside, and although they may function well, they still feel the pain.

When I was a young minister, I visited an eighty year old man on one of his bad days. He wouldn’t tell me what was wrong, except to say in a soft voice, “I fought in the Battle of the Bulge.” I nodded like I understood but of course I didn’t. I couldn’t. But I could see that it still hurt his spirit even after many decades.

I enjoy the freedom of expression and so today, I want to express my gratitude to that older former soldier, and the soldier who once served in Afghanistan, and every other person who has served in the military. I thank them for their time, pain, and the wounds they still sustain in their bodies, memories, and emotions.

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