FOURTH OF JULY |
July 06, 2009
For many, the 4th of July holiday is about barbecues, fireworks, friends and spending time enjoying the freedoms this country affords us. I wonder how many spent any time this past weekend thinking about the true significance of this Independence Day? From Paul Revere and George Washington all the way up to the present-day grunts and groundpounders of Operation Iraqi Freedom, Operation Enduring Freedom and the Global War on Terror, our country’s veterans should have been honored with thoughts or simple prayers. Their services and their sacrifices are indelible, and have been essential to the preservation of our wonderful country.
Yesterday I enjoyed barbecues with friends and watched fireworks launched from the National Mall in the shadows of our greatest monuments. Today I find myself once again embalmed in sadness. My thoughts drift to good friends deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan. My heart clings to one in particular whose mission is unknown to all but the most special of forces.
The media brings the news that thousands of troops are now battling in southern Afghanistan. The “Surge” has begun and we expect an increase in casualties. One WIA in particular has made this Independence Day holiday difficult for me. In receiving him from the crew who flew him in I was struck numb by the devastation of his injuries. Never in the four years taking care of the wounded, and never, ever in my entire career as a civilian trauma nurse and flight nurse, have I seen such complete decimation of the human body. For once in all my years in nursing I was stopped dead in my tracks and left speechless. Even worse was the complete and total irony that not one mark, scratch or shrapnel wound marred his handsome face.
Standing next to his bedside, I reached out to hold his hand. Cradling it in both of mine, I prayed for him. Since that day my nights have not been easy. Oftentimes his face haunts my dreams, making sleep elusive. I couldn’t even bring myself to go to church today. In keeping with the wonderful 4th of July tradition of recognizing and paying tribute to those in the military, my church honors those who sacrifice so very much. This church, often a place I find solace and peace, was one I avoided, afraid too many tears would fall in the presence of others. Others who could not possibly understand that in a nearby hospital lay a young man whose injuries were so horrific that I prayed he would die.