He is coming home and she is nervous.  It has been nine months.  Next to her is their daughter who has spent a quarter of her life without her father.  In her arms is an infant never seen with a father’s eyes.

She is pleasantly agitated and excited.  I got that from the interview with this military wife as well.  I am sure her husband is the same, but the report ends with only his open arms and none of his words.

Unless you have spent significant time away from someone you love, you can’t understand the apprehension.  Nine months may be very little time for friends, but it is a very long time to be away from those who are “unique in all the world.”

They have had their first night together and it is a week now.  Were those days and nights gentle and what was it like for him to be gentle after nine months of “going in hard?” There will be no reports on the matter.  The news ran its feel good story and moved on….another bombing, another man or woman who will not be received with open arms, but in a wooden box draped in a flag.

Tomorrow is Veterans and Remembrance Day.  In Britain there will be red poppies and parades in America.  We would all do well to say thank you.  We slept comfortably while they “went in hard.”

After our thank you, we must ask those hard questions.  Was it necessary?  Was the government justified for ripping that man away from his wife and children?  Oftentimes the answers to questions like this is yes.  It was yes during that great conflict that gave England its red poppies and in the next great war when, with our British brothers and sisters in arms, we took the devil out of the world.

Is it necessary now?   It was for a time, but now I am too uninterested in politics and even history to have a valid opinion.  It has been more than a decade at war.  For better than ten years our nation has known cold reality in the heat of the desert and it is getting tiresome.  I don’t want to hear another timetable or objective.  I want the sacrifices made by those who had no choice in the matter to justify the decisions of those leaders who did have a choice.  But what I most want is for the warriors to come home.

Wars are often necessary, but they are never a natural state.  Wars breed violence and absence whereas the natural state is grace and presence.  Wars, even the good ones, testify to our fall.

I think again of the young family.  It has been a week.  I hope he can acclimate before Christmas and I hope he does not have to go back.  If I saw him tomorrow on the holiday I would say thank you for nine months and I would say the same thing to a woman and two little children who knew his absence while his presence belonged to a cause.   It is a thank you that belongs to them and millions more.  It is also a thank you that need come with the prayer that we may one day live in a world where those thank yous are uttered only because of the distant past.

Image:  A sailor from the USS Norfolk returns home from duty, US Navy Creative Commons