Thursday, April 05, 2007

A New Perspective

My word for today is...Perspective.

Until this evening I have been thinking about very little else than getting home (I've been traveling here and there for about 40 days), beginning the advanced course this summer, creature comforts of home, and generally things that revolve around my little universe. As I write I am on yet another C-17 flying from the heart of Iraq to Germany. But this flight is different. My unit does not "own" this flight. Instead, I and a small bevy of my soldiers are merely hitchhikers trying to get back to the US. We are seat fillers. And as I sit and look around I don't think I should be on this plane. I don't belong. Frankly, I don't deserve to be among those who I find myself among. Why? Perspective. On this flight, before we even lifted into the air, my attention has been violently ripped from my mental mirror and I have been made to look beyond myself. That violence was done to my ego by a couple dozen heroes. Two of them in particular. Brent and Sean. See, this is a Medevac flight.


Brent is strapped to a stretcher near the rear of the plane. Last on, First off. I don’t think I’ve ever seen so many wires attached to one person. Brent has oxygen tubes in his nose and two IV bags hanging at either end of his stretcher. His head has recently been shaved and he has a very large bandage in nearly the center of his forehead. There is a tube running into the hole in the front of his head through which the doctors periodically draw fluid. The greenish tattoo bearing the Greek letters, IXOYE on his right bicep is starkly contrasted to his very pale skin. He looks like a soldier. I had to meet him. After clearing it with the doctors, I introduce myself, and with his labored approval I bent over him, putting my mouth close to his ear, and having anointed him with the only thing I could find, hand sanitizer, I prayed for him. After saying, ‘amen’ I looked him in the eye and said, ‘Thank you. We’re proud of you.” Brent said nothing but his face and his body spoke volumes.


Sean lies very still. He appears to be sleeping. The cheery, flowered sheet covering the mattress on his stretcher belies his circumstances. Sean also has oxygen filtering through water bottles and into his nose. A small machine over his bed offers his doctors all manner of information from pulse to blood pressure to breathing rate. Sean isn’t moving. I quickly anoint his forehead with my anointing oil/hand sanitizer and pray for his recovery, comfort and family. I say, ‘amen’ and open my eyes. Sean is staring at me through his right eye. His left eye is swollen shut. In fact, the entire left side of his face and neck look like he’s been shot with a shot gun at close range. The outline of the chin strap of his ballistic helmet is clearly visible. It is a small strip of untouched skin surrounded by his damaged face. After introducing myself he told me his name and we chatted for a few moments. Finally I asked, “What happened?” already knowing the answer. His reply was short, “IED”. All I could muster without entirely loosing my composure was, “Thank you. We’re proud of you. Bless You.”


I’m going home for a while. In a day or two I’ll walk into my house. I’ll comb my hair. I’ll hug my wife and kids and thank God for my country, for my freedom, for my family, and for men like Brent and Sean who decided the price to be paid was worth the cause to be won.


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

From our country's second President, John Adams:
"I must study politics and war that my sons may have liberty to study mathematics and philosophy... in order to give their children a right to study painting, poetry, and music."

You and the other members of our military are doing for Iraq what past warriors have done for me.

Senator Reid is a fool.