Thursday, April 2, 2009

A Hero Comes Home

He's home from Iraq. He arrived at the local airport today, with family, friends, neighbors and strangers he'd never met awaiting his arrival. Each of them had come to show their support and their appreciation to this soldier for his duty served in the on-going war.

He joined the US Army because he had the same patriotism shared by his brother, his grandfather and his great-grandfather. He wanted to protect and preserve our country's rights and freedoms. His mother is proud of her sons' decisions.

This scene might have been different. The soldier might have marched proudly off the plane wearing his decorated uniform. He might have held his chin high as he stood at attention or smiled and waved at the crowd. He might have run across the airfield to lift his little son high in the air and hug his mother. But, he was carried off the plane and escorted by an honor guard. He was lying prone, his bed a casket, his blanket the flag of the United States. Not only is he a patriotic military man, he is now a statistic, another casualty of war.

My heart goes out to a woman who lives in the same little town I do. We've never met. That may change, for I feel a connection with her. I have a son in the military too. I know the worries she must have felt when her son was in a danger zone. I ache for her, knowing the agony I have felt when I've dared let myself think that my son might sometime be in a combat area. So far, that has not been our case, but when your son is a member of the US military, you know it's always a possibility.

A soldier has come back to his own homeland. This young man will be honored with special services and laid to rest on Saturday. His mother will know no rest for many days and nights in the future. She will remember her son's days at home with her as a little boy. She will think of the good times they shared while he was growing up, and she will teach her little grandson about
the father he is too young to remember. She will wonder what might have been. She will not forget for a single moment that her son is one of the many soldiers lost, but a very special one. She will be proud of her boy, but she will wish things could have been different. She will pray, with all of her heart, that God will spare her other son from such a fate. I will pray with her, for her, and for all the other mothers of sons who might find themselves in fear of such a heartbreaking return.


Although I don't consider my handwriting anything special, other people apparently do. I'm often complimented on my neat and 'fancy' script. Recently one counter clerk who took my check stood there looking at it and tell me she just liked 'looking at it'.

It all started back in grade school, I guess, when I learned to form the cursive letters. Miss Bird, I remember, told me that I had good formation, but she said I could improve my handwriting if I slanted all the letters in the same direction. She told me to practice, practice and practice and she thought I'd have lovely handwriting. I took her advice. I guess it paid off, as in high school I was invited to hand write the menus for an upscale restaurant (The Hedges Inn) and was paid for doing so.

After my children were born, I had to sit quietly while breast-feeding one or another of them. I used that time to practice calligraphy or write letters to friends. The more practice you have, the better you get, and that works for anything you sent your mind to, I imagine.

I've been known to let things get sloppy when I'm in a hurry, but I don't like to do that. I enjoy knowing that my script looks nothing like a doctor's perscription. People have remarked that their own handwriting is terrible, and that they can't do anything to change it. I don't believe that is true. Today, a clerk who took my check, told me that she hardly writes with a pen anymore...she texts.

It seems to me that we've gotten lazy in the age of computers. We don't write letters by hand any more, we email. I hadn't thought about the texting idea in regard to handwriting until the clerk mentioned it. Isn't it sad? I think so...and yet, it's not surprising. We are all so busy, so anxious to have everything done immediately, it makes perfect sense.

The future tumbles toward us furiously. We no longer do figures in our heads, or with scribbled numbers on paper or count on our fingers. Adding machines do it for us. I can only hope that someone will remember how to write with their hand, as we 'progress' with all these machines.

Before long, I fear that Robots will be doing our thinking for us. What will be left for us other than to turn into huge vegetables which will be able to speak words to a machine, and have it written? I don't want to see that.

I think I'll go write a letter....with a pen.