For many of our veterans, the hardest part about being shot at, to paraphrase Oscar Wilde, is not being shot at anymore. Many years ago, I wrote about the casualties of war. The war that has now been going on for a decade. The death toll of the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan have long since passed by the two thousand mark. The hill in Lafayette, California where crosses have been placed to mark each fallen soldier is now all but obscured with white markers. It made me think of that sign in front of the Veterans' Hospital in Muskogee, Oklahoma that read, "The Price Of Freedom Is Visible Here."
As each war passes into history, science has given us better and better ways to bring the wounded back, in more or less on piece. Yet we continue to struggle with ways to bring them all the way home. The worst wounds are the ones we can't see. In this case, the price of freedom is invisible here. When the guns are silenced and the medals have been awarded, the war isn't over. The stories of soldiers returning from foreign lands who brought the war home appear far too frequently. The War On Terror is now being fought on two fronts.
I think of my son, who at fifteen only really knows his country at war. I wonder how this has affected his world, inside and out. I wonder what it has done to me. If it makes me flinch to hear about "Price Wars" at a mattress warehouse to celebrate Veterans' Day, how do you suppose that feels to someone who lived through the real thing?