EDITOR’S NOTE: On Saturday, a few NR writers and friends were among those visiting wounded troops at Walter Reed Medical Center, at a monthly open house. Some of us wrote up some of our encounters. Here’s one such entry.
Visting with wounded soldiers at Walter Reed Medical Center in Washington is an eye-opener. These men and women leave their loved ones, their spouses and children, parents and friends. They have volunteered for this. Some have dedicated years of their life, training for combat. They convoy dangerous materials across dangerous roads pocked with mines and exploding shrapnel. They have learned not to flinch as they feel the air displaced near their head from a bullet whizzing by. They eat the wretched dehydrated, reconstituted Salisbury steak three times a day. It’s been too long to remember since they have slept in on a Saturday. Now they stay up all hours of the night to ensure the safety of each member of their platoon. They honorably build a school for young children one day and conduct armed raids the next. After enduring this, some have died. Some have lost their vision or hearing. Some can no longer walk. And none will ever be the same.
When it all comes down to it, there are two types of Americans. Those soldiers engaged in combat half a world away–and the rest of us who
are merely grateful.
–Mollie Ziegler is a Phillips Foundation fellow.