He was hovering over an auntie, gently stroking her face, when I entered the hospital room. He was tall, handsome and youthful. He was just back from Iraq. His auntie was dieing of pancreatic cancer and she had been waiting to say goodbye to this warrior.
Before starting my treatment, I told him thank you. I felt a deep sense of gratitude come over me. It was the same feeling I felt the first time I saw the Vietnam War Memorial. I told him that my family appreciated what the soldiers were doing. It seemed a weak thing to say, because I felt a deep river.
I wanted to say, I strongly supported the efforts to bring democracy to this unstable part of the world. I wanted to ask, why did it have to be so overwhelming and so hazardous? I thought the Iraqis would receive this gift.
I wanted to tell him that just a few nights before I attended a fundraising event where Lee Greenwood was asked to stand and lead 1300 people in singing the song that states “I am proud to be an American”. We all knew the words. It was a crowd full of freedom lovers and many sang passionately… as if …this was a new national anthem. Many could not sing.
It will take so much time and many lives to create lovers of freedom in Iraq and Afghanistan. It will be much longer and more complicated than anyone imagined. This could possibly be the hardest thing our country will ever be asked to do…this I believe.