One of the things about a long commute (and not many people having your cell phone number) is that you have time to yourself to think about what you see while on the roads. Some days it's the guy with the "legalize marijuana not Mexicans" sign on his truck. Some days, it's less light-hearted.
While on the off-ramp to my suburb township this evening, I glanced to my right and saw a vehicle with yellow ribbon and flag magnets all over it. Then I noticed that there was a "memorial" on the rear window. The memorial said, "Real heroes don't die, they get wings." There was a picture of an angel with combat boots on.
The dates of this hero's life were 1984-2005.
Twenty-one. He was 21 when he died. Did he get to vote in an election before he died? Did he get to go to a bar and have a few beers while watching football with his friends? Did he get to go off and have a romantic weekend with his girlfriend? Snorkel in the Keys? Go skiing? Ride the big roller-coasters at the theme parks? I hope he got all of those things and more, because he isn't going to get them now.
Twenty-one. Jesus. Who will be sent over there next, middle-school students?
I was amazed at the ribbons and flags on the vehicle because I'd be damned pissed if that were my kid. That kid was sent to fight a war based on lies and wagging of the dog. I sure as hell wouldn't have yellow ribbons all over my vehicle. I'd be putting "bring them home NOW" stickers all over.
But...I hope that his parents always believe that their son died for a good reason. Still, at the end of the day, even dying for a "cause" isn't much comfort. Not when weighed against a kid who only got to live to be twenty-one.
Res ipsa loquitur.
Which brings me to the only song I've heard yet that talks about people not coming home. It's Tim McGraw's "If You're Reading This," and I can't get all the way through it without tearing up. Give it a listen -- it's a powerful song.