An army of minus 1
There was a memorial service yesterday for a man I hardly new. He was from my old town of Chappaqua, his father ran the town cleaners and he helped his father after school as he grew up. He graduated, did well for himself, had two kids, enlisted and went to law school. A credit short of his law degree he was on his second tour. His first was in Iraq. This time around he was in Afghanistan. Killed in Action just two weeks ago, he was the first person I could say I knew to have been killed in "The War on Terror."
I won't get into a political tirade about it since, first of all, I believe in us ousting the Taliban and fixing that country regardless of how bad it has gotten over there, but secondly because the back of his memorial service pamphlet said "Freedom isn't Free" and I also believe that. If this is going to be a statement in his memory I will not degrade it with my own personal beliefs that run counter to his own.
I guess this is my own eulogy for him, not the one opened by Senator Clinton, County Supervisor Spano, and all the local officials, there are no taps to be played by the local high school trumpeter, and there are not thousands of people standing around as this blog is being typed. And in my eulogy I want to look back at John Kerry's speech when he asked congress in 1971: "How do you ask a man to be the last man to die in Vietnam? How do you ask a man to be the last man to die for a mistake?" No matter the similarities, this is not Vietnam, and no matter your views it is still an opinion rather than a fact that "The war on terror" is a mistake. But the longer a war goes on the more people there are like me, those that actually know a person who dies in a land we chose to invade. And we must ask whether that death was a legitimate cost to the greater good, the means justifying the end that is meant to come out of a war's resolution. Because that death, that death that is the one personal death, is the last person to die. He is the only person in that war that makes it personal, no longer a statistic but a soul.
So now I find myself asking this deceased man to be the last man. Those before him are names on a TV screen, those after, sadly, will be the same. He is who I must ask to bear the burden or representing in my little life all those he served with. A man who left behind two children and a widow, a brother and a mother and a father, and a lot of people like me who will know the world is a lesser place because he is not in it.