I believe that most Americans do not understand the true cost of fighting terrorism. I believe that the war on terror is a concept that is as distant to most American’s as the concept of where a gallon of milk comes from: a cow. Most Americans do not truly know that the cost of freedom is not just a dollar figure measured by our national debt but is a cost measured in emotional turmoil and one measured by guilt, remorse and many visits to the doctor for help.
The true cost of fighting terrorism is the cost of lost innocence by our young soldiers and the emotional and financial drain it imposes on their families as well.
I learned this cost personally when my daughter joined the United States Army and became a Military Policeman. I am grateful that she is alive today. Her life is hampered by the impact of two tours in Iraq and the loss of a best friend, Sergeant Ashly Moyer and other team members who are memorialized by a tattoo she wears on her leg. The war is her constant companion. At twenty-three years of age she is now retired from the Army and far older and wiser than many her age. Her dreams and hopes are on hold as she tries to heal from her tours of duty.
When I look at the pictures of her from her first tour I still see innocence and hope. After her second tour I see the terrible cost of innocence lost. I see in her soul, through her eyes and through her words, the loss of hope and yet because of the strength in her soul there is still a light, albeit a dimmer light. Yet she hopes and dreams for a future that is not as it once was, before she was injured by some insurgent’s IED. A future of hope dimmed by watching helplessly as her best friend burned to death at the hands of people without hope.
My family and I could not have survived our journey without the kindness and prayers of family, friends and strangers. I shared her story with everyone I ran across, almost with embarrassment: the store clerks, the Starbuck’s baristas, and the pharmacy technicians; anyone who would listen to my impassioned story. And I especially sought out young people who reminded me of my daughter; to share her trials and tribulations she endured in a land forsaken by sanity.
I believe that because of my daughter a few more Americans’ now understand the true cost of fighting terrorism.