Sunday, December 18, 2011


This morning on the other side of the world at 7:37 am the last US combat troop crossed over the border to Kuwait ending our nine year war in Iraq...officially.  My mind returned to the day we began the Shock and Awe campaign.   I was at a friend's warehouse studio listening to the reports coming in on the radio when I went to use the restroom and realized that I had unknowingly been wearing my underwear inside out and backwards all day.

I remember three years later after I had moved back to Florida and went to a craft store to buy some art supplies.  The war was far from my mind until I walked past the aisle that held the Flag boxes on sale.  I stood there and my heart sank.  It hit me that unlike previous generations of war, my generation, in this age of petty distraction, could go days or weeks without a thought about our soldiers abroad because as civilians we have not been asked to sacrifice anything.  

I had the same thoughts every time I saw a soldier in an airport.  I wondered if they were coming or going, and if they were on their way home how difficult the adjustment must be for them.  I witnessed the small ways they were honored in transit:  the rounds of applause at the baggage claim, or on a plane after a pilot had honored them over the intercom, or the smiles and quiet thanks given by individuals to soldiers on terminal trams.

I recall the six months I spent worrying about my little brother while he served in Iraq in his position at the DOD.  I swore an oath to him and myself that if anything happened to him I would devote the rest of my life making sure that the terrible story of this particular war would be impossible to hide through the retelling of history.

We spent Thanksgiving this year with my brother in Washington D.C.  It was his first time hosting the holiday as a young adult in his new apartment.  I was so grateful he was home. We feasted the way only a family with a Chef in its fold can do.  During dinner he told us about the USO volunteers that he encountered all over the world and the platters of baked goods and comfort foods of home that they provided to all personnel serving in the wars abroad.   My brother twice returned from war without family to greet him, and for the kindness shown to him by these folks I will be eternally grateful.

A nine year war ended today.  The last soldiers are now racing the clock home to be with their loved ones for the holidays.  I can't even imagine the relief and strangeness of the new life the Iraqi people are faced with now they are no longer occupied.

Anytime a war ends is a time for joy.  This upcoming few weeks there will be many toasts to be made.  This holiday season the word "peace" is more than some sentiment followed by the word "joy" on a card.  Peace is the epic struggle for our slowly evolving species.  During the holidays as we light our candles lets do so in dedication of peace and hope for the end of the war in Afghanistan.  The cost of war is too much for any people to bear.

Lets give thanks to all the people across the world who bring peace in ways both big and small, and reflect on the meaningful ways that we can follow in their footsteps.

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