Did anyone notice the “No Guns” sign on the bullet-ridden front door of that recruiting office? My blood boiled when I saw it on the news tonight! It’s an open invitation anywhere it’s posted. But again, I’m focusing on the loss of four men willing to sign a blank check, payable up to and including their lives, to the United States, and the grief of their loved ones just hours after they left for work this morning with plans for tonight, this weekend, and beyond. I just can’t shake that from my mind – or my heart. And it aches.
When I stopped by the Post Office late this afternoon, I asked one of the employees if he is a veteran (I strongly suspected he is). When he said he is, I asked if he’d yet heard the news about the four Marines, and tears immediately came to his eyes. But he did not yet know that the gunman was Kuwaiti. When I told him, I was stunned at what happened next. Why he had them with him today, immediately available as if on script, I have no earthly idea. But from his pocket he pulled out a zip lock bag of 3×5 photos. He did not tell me what they were at first, he just pulled them out, opened the bag, and first showed me a burned out tank in the desert beside the road. Then more photos of typical wartime destruction – they got worse as he went through them without comment. Finally, he said, “That’s Kuwait City. I was there!” It was clear that he was having a very difficult time knowing what he’d fought for, and suddenly finding out that it was one of those people’s children that did this thing today. I did not ask him about the photos, or why he had them in his pocket today. Conversation at that point was not appropriate. There were silent tears in both of our eyes. Knowing I was a veteran myself, as I walked away he said with all sincerity, “Thank you for your service.” I felt so inadequate at that moment, and replied, “Thank you, but thank YOU for YOUR service.” He’d actually been there. And as it turns out, he’d also been in Somalia with the Rangers during Mogadishu. The anguish of wasted “service” simply does not have words.