Sunday, November 11, 2018

Dear Daddy - The War Zone (Week 3)

This week we read about another daddy also in Kabul. His name was Brent Taylor. He was a major in the Utah National Guard and he was serving his 4th deployment in Afghanistan. He was the mayor of a small city in Utah and the father of 7 children. He was killed on Saturday. He was 39.

Since the United States went to war in Afghanistan in 2001 there have been more than 4000 American military and civilian casualties. Brent Taylor is just the latest in a long line of deaths. His family has said he was proud to be serving in the US military. They, his community, and his country were proud of his service. He is a hero. But, he is never coming home.

Our hearts are broken for the Taylor family. We grieve for his small children who will never again hold his hand or hear him read them a story or kiss them goodnight. We ache for his wife who has unexpectedly been permanently cast in the role of single parent. We feel for his friends and neighbors who will miss him. Mayor Taylor was well liked by the people he served, even his ideological opposites, and so we are also saddened that America has lost a committed and moral public servant, particularly now when politicians like him seem to be in short supply.

Daddy, when you told us you were going to Afghanistan, you said very matter-of-factly, "I'm going to Afghanistan. I'll be gone a year and then I'll be back." You showed us where Afghanistan was on the map and explained that you would be in a city called Kabul. You talked a little bit about why you were going and what you would be doing there. And then we didn't talk about Afghanistan itself anymore. But, we know you're not just in Afghanistan, you're in the "war zone."

Truthfully, "war zone" sounds kind of cool. We picture you surrounded by guns and helicopters and marines and walkie-talkies. But, in reality, we don't even begin to understand what the term "war zone" means. We can't imagine the level of destruction there must be in a place where there have been violent conflicts for centuries. We don't know what gunfire sounds like or the rotors of a helicopter or any of the other sounds you hear because you're in a place that is at war. And, while we understand why you're there, we wish you weren't. We wish you and Major Taylor and all the others that are serving there now in any capacity didn't need to be there at all.

We've heard Mommy say, "they don't call it the war zone for nothing." We think she says that when she hears unsettling reports because if she dwells too long on where you are and the fact that people are getting killed there, she'll go crazy. Reading about Brent Taylor's death was sobering. Although you are not in uniform and you are not being asked to deploy over and over again and you too are being protected by people like Major Taylor, you do have a few things in common with him. Chief among these bonds is that until Saturday, you were in the same place. A place where people, Americans, daddies, are dying. A place called the "war zone."

Today is Veteran's Day - the day we remember the thousands upon thousands of women and men who have and continue to bravely and selflessly put their lives on the line to protect the freedoms and liberties we enjoy and that make us uniquely American. Words are insufficient to express our gratitude for the mothers and fathers, sons and daughters, husbands and wives who are willing to give or have given, in too many cases, their very lives to keep us safe.

Today also marks the 100th Anniversary of the end of the Great War. World War I earned the moniker "great" due to its size and scope - nearly 60 million soldiers fought and more than 8 million people died from 1914 until November 11, 1918. And, it was hoped that it would be the first and only conflict of its kind, that the world would never again know the horrors of war on such a grand scale. Today we mark this anniversary somberly, reminded of the heroism of so many and wishing WWI had in fact been the last war. Mostly though, today we wish that Major Taylor and you and so many others will never again have to run the risk of not coming home - that someday we will celebrate the anniversary of the end of the "war zone."



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