no spam, unsubscribe anytime.
I began a short trip up into Canada Monday morning. It is going to be an adventure and I'm looking forward to what will come of it. But I am still burdened by the terrible news of the loss of so many of our Navy Seals in the mountains of Afghanistan last Saturday. As I write, I'm in a small port town on the north shore of the Olympic Peninsula in the state of Washington. I'm in a motel looking out my window at an American flag hung at half mast. It ruffles briskly in a strong breeze, in honor of those who died in enemy action last Saturday, August 6, 2011.
It's ironic that I am also watching the TLC TV program that presents surprise homecomings of some of our troops, with all of the joyful and powerful welcome-home experiences that so many of our battlefield veterans and their families are having these days.
I am torn by so many conflicting emotions. I am thrilled for those coming home to such beautiful homecomings. And I am tortured by a bone-deep sadness over the loss of so many of our finest young men during hostile action in the mountains of Afghanistan. This is the reality of war. It always has been so. There are those who come home and are able to carry on with their lives, to make families, to enter the work force and to become worthy members of a society on the move. But the truth is that there are too many who go to places far away, who do battle with those who wish us harm, who will never come home again.
It is a sunny evening in this beautiful town by the sea. The sky is blue, lightened a bit with high, thin clouds. Everything shouts beauty and joy, but that joy is tainted for me. Those Navy Seals were on their way out into the field to support other NATO troops who were in a serious firefight with the Taliban. They were doing what they had been trained for years to do, to save others, to wreak havoc on those who threatened their brothers-in-arms. This time they did not make it. Their mission ended as a result of enemy fire. So many! So many men were lost, so many families now begin the long suffering of receiving the caskets, burying the bodies, and carrying on with a pain that never goes away, a pain of loss and loneliness.
This loss of so many of our finest, most well-prepared warriors creates a deep sorrow for all of us. They were the kind of soldiers that were trained to fight terrorists in their own territory, without fear. But they were also sailors with wives and children, mothers and fathers. In every war there are great losses. This has been one of them.
As I look out my motel window, the flag flying at half mast stands out straight and true in the wind. All of its stars and all of its bars are clear and bold. It speaks of our sorrow and of our pride as it waves there in the evening sun. We humans are complicated beings. Sadness is deep in us today, but we are not bowed. We are not broken. We hurt, and we sorrow, but we are proud of those who have paid the final price, made the ultimate sacrifice for all of us. And we hope, at the same time, from the deepest well of our hearts, that the day will come when this kind of sacrifice will no longer be needed.
May their memories be always held in our minds and hearts. May their loss make us always aware of the price of freedom. May we never forget their families as they learn to live without their fathers and mothers, their husbands and wives, their sons and daughters. These warriors have died so that we can live in peace.