It’s very different today

In the months since Alicia’s death, I’ve found myself extremely sensitive to the emotional pain of others. I guess this comes with the territory in the wake of loss.

So I felt myself near tears this morning at the airport in Minneapolis as a soldier bid goodbye to his wife and three children. It was a gut wrenching scene, and I had to actually look away.

A friend asked me recently if I thought Iraq was this generation’s Vietnam, and I immediately said, “no.” I have my Vietnam-era service medal, and there is a huge difference between this war and that one. On the flight up to Minneapolis, we had two soldiers who were going home on leave. The flight attendant announced this over the intercom, and the entire plane applauded. No, this war is very different than Vietnam, when the American public took out its distaste on the servicemen and women who made the same sacrifices as those who are fighting today. We were the bad guys, and that was the real shame of Vietnam.

So when I witness scenes like this morning, I remember. I remember leaving my family and coming home to the silence and to the sense that I had somehow betrayed the culture I swore to protect. I remember traveling in “civies,” stuffing the uniform into the duffel bag that gave me away anyway.

It’s very different today.

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