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I can hardly bear to watch him, his shoulders hunched, his eyes staring vacantly, yet with an underlying horror. My body aches to weep, but my tears seem to have broken with my heart.
“Jon.” My voice is a whisper, but cuts through the silence like a whip. He starts.
His eyes focus and soften, fastening on me in a way that makes my heart stir.
“I wish you had never gone into the military.” There. I said it. The words I had been thinking since he had come back. I shake my head. Come back. The words are empty promises, echoing only pain. He is not back. Not my Jonathan.
His eyes fill with many things at my words. I wish I had not said them. He finds my hand. It is a time before he can speak.
“I do not,” he says. “I do not wish I had never gone.”
This is a surprise to me. I can see the memories he wishes he does not have. I have heard the nightmare cries.
He searches my face, searches for how to explain. “I saw things I would wish on no man. I did things no man should have to do. But Ann,” his intensity fills the room. “The things that were happening to those people before, the things that would have kept happening…Those are ten million times worse than what I went through.” He trembles. “And as much as I hate every minute of it, I count it a privilege,” tears spill over, enough to fill the world, “to have given myself to them.
"Ann, our military has given that country life. We have given them hope. And, God willing, we will give them peace.”
© 2006 Amy Michelle Wiley
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Thank you for writing this piece. And thank you for supporting those in the military and have given for our country. Unfortunately, only those with visible wounds areoften the only ones to receive the honor they deserve. Those in conflicts past, Korea, Vietnam, Somalia, and others, whose wounds are inside are frequently forgotten; except by those who fought with them. To them, also, I say, "THANK YOU FOR SERVING!" God bless and keep writing.
God willing, you will give them peace! I still have goosebumps, which began at the very first word you wrote, Amy. Truth changes people, and those who have the courage to face it, confront it, battle it, deserve our prayers. Deserve our respect. And deserve our unshakeable gratitude. They service and battle against forces dark, that others may not have to live within that very darkness. Powerful piece. Thank you!