Given the current frustration in Afghanistan, Rudyard Kipling’s poem, The Young British Soldier, seems an apt tribute to the insane difficulties of fighting and dying far away, especially the famous last stanza:
When you’re wounded and left on Afghanistan’s plains,
And the women come out to cut up what remains,
Jest roll to your rifle and blow out your brains
An’ go to your Gawd like a soldier.
On a more inspiring and contemporary note, there’s this excellent story about women Marines working with Afghan women in Helmand province. Despite the stupidity, bias and brutality of some of their male comrades in arms–Nancy Gibbs has written about the stratospheric rape rates–these women serve us brilliantly.
On a personal note, I’d like to add a tribute to those American diplomats who also serve in Iraq and Afghanistan–and face many of the same dangers, especially ied’s and rockets, that the military does; some never come home, others suffer grievous wounds, all are marked forever by what they’ve seen. My oldest son has just completed a year of service in Baghdad…safely, Thank God. Welcome home, Chris! Well done, and thank you.