The Ultimate Sacrifice

I found out today that the son of one of my coworkers at the lab died overseas while serving in the military. He was just a little bit younger than my brother. This really got me thinking about the kind of men and women that join the military and, unfortunately, die in a military conflict. I don’t know why, but military deaths hit me particularly hard.

I won’t deny that war is necessary. It would be ideal if wars were completely avoidable and we resolved our problems like reasonable people. But, as we all know, there are people in the world who are not reasonable. They really do want to she world burn. As I’m writing this, there are no real megalomaniacal madmen. There are a few dictators here and there, but they only control their own country and are not on the war path of conquest of their continent. So I’m relatively safe here in the United States.

This is why I don’t understand the continued engagement in Afghanistan. The Taliban were gone, and that should have been the end of it. But the US and allies stuck around, and the deaths continue to climb. Don’t even get me started on Iraq. That was a needless crusade. Hussein could have been controlled or killed from afar. But whatever.

That war and military interventions are necessary and unreasonable in my mind doesn’t take away from my respect and admiration for those young (and some not-so-young) men and women that volunteer to serve. While some of them may not have any idea of what they’re getting into, or they may have been convinced by a “sales pitch” from a recruiter, I believe that the vast majority of them know the level of service and dedication that will be required of them. I believe that they know that they may be killed. That’s why I really admire them.

Although I’m known for running towards trouble to help instead of running away seeking help, I don’t think that I would knowingly place myself in a position where death is a possibility on any given day. That is, I react to situations. They come to me. I don’t go looking for trouble. That’s what you do when you jump on a ship, or a plane, or a helicopter, and go to war. You know that you’re one bullet away from a life-ending or life-shattering moment.

May this kid and all who serve so honorably and give so much rest in peace. May God grant their families the peace and comfort they need at these times and all the time their children are away at war.

I'm a doctoral candidate in the Doctor of Public Health program at the Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health. All opinions posted here are my own, of course, and they do not necessarily reflect the opinions of my school, employers, friends, family, etc. Feel free to follow me on Twitter: @EpiRen