Sunday, December 10, 2006

My Friend the Hero

I have a friend just returned from Iraq. He's been there 7 or 8 times now since the war started. He's a special operations guy and therefore he deploys for shorter periods which usually involve intense combat. My wife and I had dinner with him and his wife last night. Let's call my friends Mike and Sarah for convenience's sake.

Mike is being awarded the silver star for valor in a previous deployment (click on the above link to see the kind of things one has to do to earn a silver star). After this deployment he's being awarded "something higher than the silver star".

Mike is nothing if not humble and modest. He has killed, I conservatively guess, hundreds of "insurgents" in close quarters combat. I know this because, while he will not tell where or when, he will tell enough for me to be sure that he is getting shot at on a regular basis, and, since he just returned in fine health, that he shoots better than those shooting at him.

I know this is off the subject of medicine but I have to say thanks to Mike. Whatever you may believe about the reasons for the Iraq war, Mike simply saluted and went. In the course of his multiple deployments and in the course many chats in our driveways I am convinced that the people he kills are death-worshippers. I am convinced that if they had the opportunity to kill me or my wife or my kids or the jew down the street that they would do it with fanatical zeal and without hesitation. What a conundrum. An enemy who is happy to kill us and happy to be killed.

Thanks Mike. Thanks for killing them there. Thanks for putting yourself at risk for me and my family. Thanks for giving me and my family a buffer zone in which I can pretend the world is basically good and I can hang my Christmas lights on my house and buy presents for my kids for a special morning two weeks from today.

Thanks Sarah, for being such a good neighbor, such a good wife to Mike, and such a good mom to your kids. And Sarah, thanks for modeling bravery to us all. How do you manage not to jump every time the phone rings or a strange car drives up our street? You are both stronger than I can imagine. You are both what all Americans should aspire to be.

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