The smoke started to drift away as the dirt and sand in the air began to settle back to Earth. The total silence that comes only after a deafening noise shrouded us. It’s in these milliseconds that everyone drops their guard and looks shocked. Death had just announced his presence.
Death is a motherfucker. Sometimes he’s swift. Other times he’s slow. More often than not, he just wants to remind you that he’s always there.
Death is a motherfucker.
Death isn’t the grim reaper. Clothes are not what shrouds him. He comes in the wind. You can feel him as you can a sharp cold breeze. You can sense when his eyes are upon you, much like you can sense when someone is looking at you.
There’s no beauty in death. There’s no angelic face to look into. The only comfort in death is the knowledge that the person is no longer in pain.
And that can be a pretty shitty comfort.
Yet, while Death waits for all of us, what is it about knowing Death that can both propel us to achieve beyond our imagination and also force us to shrink back into despair?
To some Death is a constant companion. He reminds them to make every day as meaningful as possible.
To others, Death is like a rabid junkyard dog who is only being held to his cage by the most tenuous of chains. The fear that Death might break lose from his chains, keeps them in place, unable to move, unable to live.
There are some who believe that having met Death is an unbearable burden. They believe that after living with him in the most personal of ways, those who know him are unalterably changed.
The truth is, we have been unalterably changed.
Death leaves his mark as readily on our souls as a branding iron does the hide of a cow. There’s no shame in being branded. In fact, Death has always owned us. He’s always been there. The only difference between those of us who have lived with Death, and those who haven’t, is that we know that we are Death’s.
There are many things that have widened the gap between those who have served and those who have never served.
Maybe there was always somewhat of a gap between us, even before we had joined.
Humans fear what they don’t know, what they can’t understand. Americans fear the destruction of the dream that we live in. Combine one innate fear with a cultural fear and you produce the current feelings of the general population to veterans returning from war today.
Every veteran has severe PTSD right?
Sure there are some of us who have returned from war and who need serious help. And yes, it does take time for service-members to transition into civilian life. However, what veterans do once they take off their uniforms, what veterans achieve far outweighs any concerns that the American population at large has with them. The Greatest Generation was the Greatest Generation because the majority of them knew that every day was a blessing. They knew that they had to make something of themselves today, because tomorrow wasn’t guaranteed.
This generation of veterans has the ability to be great.
How could you doubt it after seeing what they have endured for so long and what they do when they come back?
These veterans returning home know how precious the American dream is. They realize how tenuous the American experiment in freedom is. They’re not lazy. The majority aren’t looking for a handout. They know what it is to work to make their lives better.
There’s no shame in having joined the military to go to college, as long as you served honorably.
These men and women are the types of people who have the capacity for greatness. Instead of being scared by the scars that they carry, the American population should embrace these veterans. Embracing veterans is not giving veterans a handout or a job as a WalMart greeter; It’s about understanding their worth. It’s about challenging them. It’s about knowing that veterans have met Death, they realize that life is finite, and that they want to do great things in this life.
Who wouldn’t want to surround themself with people like veterans?