Posted by: MC | May 28, 2011

Soldiers Step to the Front

A young woman in camo was in front of me in the TSA line at the airport.  It was a long line.  I asked if she was headed home.  “Furlough,” she said.  “Afghanistan.”  We talked families and weather.  She said she’s in her second tour of duty.  Back to back.  “The reason I re-enlisted,” she went on, “well, it wasn’t because there’s any glory in it or anything.  It’s pretty much hell.  But all my friends are over there.  I couldn’t stand the thought of not being around to help out.”

We stood without words for a while.  TSA officers herded people into shoots a dozen switchbacks in front us.  They called out warnings about liquids and gels. The soldier’s brown hair was in a tight bun at the nape of her neck.  She turned to the side and looked toward her feet.  “Once you’ve been in combat situations it’s hard to come back here anyway.  Nobody really gets you.  They don’t know life the way you know it now.”

About that time, one of the TSA officials saw the young woman soldier. “Military personnel step to the front, Miss.  Our service people don’t have to wait.”  She looked my way, smiled and took the cut.

We give a weekend to the memory of wars’ cost and to the deservedly mythical contribution of warriors.  Still engagement in war, even as it arguably serves a purpose, costs every day forever anyway.  Some of us feel the effects more closely.  To my grandfather who served in WWI, a grateful, awed and honoring memorial.  To my uncles, now in their 80’s, who served in WWII; to my many friends who were in the Viet Nam conflict; and now to my students and new acquaintances with roles in our long wars in the Middle East I want to make an acknowledgement even knowing it may never contain enough.  I can’t know, because I haven’t served that way.  You all did and do it for us.

America has a Memorial Day on Monday to honor those who have died in our country’s wars.  I watched the young woman in camo walk to the front of the TSA line and found myself wanting to remember her, too.  I want to remember all that has been sacrificed toward my and our wellbeing including all that has died to war for the living military veterans, and all that may only be forever changed for the women and men now in service.


  1. Thank you Mary for a beautiful post.

  2. Wow….

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