While reading Debbie Hall’s, The Power of Presence, it brought me full circle to what I experienced in Kuwait in 1990. This was during the after effects of driving the Iraqi’s out of Kuwait during the time of Operation Desert Storm. We drove into the city of Kuwait and instant gratification was thrust upon us by the Kuwaiti citizens. Citizens ran to our vehicles and threw their arms around us in appreciation for their liberation. It was an emotional moment for me because I had never experienced anything like that before. There was this one elderly lady who was very outspoken. She told stories of how the Iraqi soldiers would execute any member and their family who was part of the Kuwaiti government. She spoke of how they would rape the women and young girls.
Liberation comes at a harsh price. The Department of Defense reports that U.S. forces suffered 148 battle-related deaths, plus one pilot listed as MIA. A further 145 Americans died in out-of-combat accidents. In all, 190 coalition troops were killed by Iraqi fire during the war, 113 of them American, out of a total of 358 coalition deaths. The cost of the war to the United States was calculated by the United States Congress to be $61.1 billion. Some would say that this was too great a burden on the United States along with that of the now ongoing of Operation Enduring Freedom. We as Americans have literally spoken out and say that we are the product of a “free” society, but at what cost are we willing to pay for “helping liberate others.”
My experience seeing those faces of freedom glow, from those who had been oppressed was satisfaction for me, knowing that I, “little old me”, made a difference. I believe that no one can take away the joy given to me by that experience. Even in American history men and women gave their lives so that I and others can enjoy the freedom that America has to offer to all. The “cost of liberation” will always come at a costly price.
Since that time, I have come to the realization that serving others have become my vocation. I will be graduating in May 2009 from University of Arkansas at Little Rock with a degree in Social Work, and plan on working with those Vets returning from the Middle East.