Thursday, November 29, 2012

Fallen Soldier Tribute

A young man from my South Carolina town, Sgt. "Bo" Hicks died while serving with the US Army in Afghanistan

I stopped by the side of the road to watch the procession that came before and after the hearse that carried his bones to their final resting place.

The procession was probably larger than most, but probably not out of the ordinary in size or other characteristics for someone who died with honor at a young age.    That funeral procession personalized the Afganistan war for me, even though I hadn't know Sgt. Hicks at all.  Sitting there, in my car, I felt a deep sense of grief.  Was this whole procession possibly a collective confession of our guilt for having sent the young man out to fight a war in the first place?

Many of us go through deliberate decision process prior to making decisions that carry far less weight than the life or death of a third party.  Have we short-changed these men and women  who are out fighting our silent war?  Is our decision process at least as robust as it can be? 

Sgt. Hicks was only 24 when his life ended.  I almost can't say that out loud without wanting to cry about it.  It will go in the record books that he was killed by a bomb that had been hidden.  But is that really the reason?  If that bomb had been hidden in Greer, I would think there would be an inquiry to find out why it was there.   Who had hidden it?  What would drive someone to be so angry as to hide a bomb?  Clearly someone must have seen the bomb being hidden or known it was there?  Why didn't anyone say something?

But, alas the bomb was not in Greer, it was in Paktika province, Afganistan.  How did he get there?  What really was the reason he was there?  Was the bomb intended to harm specifically him, or was it more of a random act of hatred and anger?  Why was it there?  People don't hide bombs for no reason.  What kind of desperation or hate causes someone to hide a bomb?

I just hope we're not collectively avoiding asking these questions becuase we're afraid of the answers.  If we are, then that funeral procession really was was a confession of guilt and collectively, we owe a debt to Sgt. Hicks that we can't ever repay.

We like to say that we are honoring a fallen soldier.  I don't know.  Personally, I would trade the comfort of having finalized Osama bin Laden and all of Afganistan for just his life.  I wish he were still alive.  He probably does too. 

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