The Good News is Also the Bad News OR I Couldn’t Even See Their Faces
The good news is also the bad news. The good news is it only takes a small minority of our populace to don military uniforms and make up an armed force capable of meeting all our nation’s international concerns.
That’s also the bad news because it means the great majority of our citizens have no real connection with the military or our on-going combat activities. Most Americans have a sense of detachment from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. A relatively small number of men and women face repeated overseas deployments, while the vast majority of Americans do not know any person currently serving in the two theaters of war.
If more people had a personal stake in the war of one sort or another we would be more likely to see more of a national outcry for ending those military adventures and for bringing our men and women home.
On the first Friday of April I was driving into Claremore from the east and, as I pulled onto Will Rogers Boulevard I saw several blocks ahead of me, a convoy of vehicles coming my way. It was a slow-moving parade of sorts led by a vehicle with flashing lights.
I quickly recalled from news reports that this would be members of the Oklahoma National Guard’s 45th Infantry Brigade. They were being escorted out of town as they began a journey to Mississippi for more training before going straight to Afghanistan for a scheduled nine months of duty.
What came to my mind was the face of one of my former students, Kyle Brinlee, who was the first member of the Oklahoma Guard to die in action in Iraq. That Oklahoma boy’s death came in the sands of Al Asad, in the province of Al Anbar, in the western part of that country. The year was 2004.
As the cars in front of me were all pulling to the side of the street in a show of honor, I knew immediately what I wanted to do. I decided to lean out my window and look every single person on the two buses right in the eyes. I wanted to see and remember their faces. It was the least I could do.
The vehicles approached, with the county sheriff in the lead, and I was ready. As the first of the two buses reached me, with my arm outstretched and my heart bursting with pride, that same heart then began to sink. The dark tinting on the windows made it impossible to see anything inside. I couldn’t even see their faces.
The buses passed, the cars pulled back onto the street, and life resumed as normal in northeastern Oklahoma.
Written by Bill McCloud (April, 2011)