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Coming of Age – A Very Different Coming of Age Story
Today I am taking another break from telling my personal coming of age story – which is increasingly becoming a story that I think only my immediate family may be interested in – to reflect on something that I experienced over the weekend.
With the kids having a four-day weekend, I decided to take them to Washington D.C. to check out the Capitol. I had been meaning to get them there for several years, but when my younger brother moved there this past summer, I decided to get it locked in on the calendar. We had a great time visiting little bro (and my nephew pup, Johnny Bacon) and seeing many of the historic sights. The monuments and memorials are truly amazing.
I was particularly struck by the Vietnam memorial. Seeing all of the names of the lives lost during that war made me think about the fact that many of those men’s lives were cut short just as they were coming of age. And for those who fought, but didn’t die, their coming of age stories are still so vastly different than my own. The same can be said for any war since so many of those that fight on our behalf are quite young. It reminds me of a young man I sat across the aisle from on a plane a few years ago. He couldn’t have been any older than twenty-one. He had suffered a serious injury (leg, and from what I could tell, head too) while fighting in Afghanistan. He spent the first few minutes of the flight swallowing pills – to manage the pain I assumed. The man who sat on the other side of him kept him pretty wrapped up in conversation most of the flight but I overheard one comment that almost brought me to tears right then and there – “I didn’t know what I was getting myself in to”. How many of us would, at eighteen, when so many sign up for military service?
I’m sure that even those who sign up to serve thinking that they do know what they are getting in to, find themselves in a little bit of shock when they go off to war and find themselves in the midst of battle. And yet they do it anyway. And they do it honorably. And they sacrifice so much. Their coming of age story is so different than my own.
Here’s to the men and women who serve! God Bless You!