I finally got to talk to Josh. The first time in 8 months, since he left, I got to hear his voice Saturday, a little after noon. As you probably know, we almost never answer our home line and there is no way we know who calls, because we leave the fax machine hooked up most of the time. But Saturday, everything worked just right, because I was home, I chose to answer that phone, and it was Josh. He was calling on a satellite phone that his unit had finally gotten. At first I didn’t recognize his voice. When I did, it was clear to me, Josh was tired and he sounded different. I have to admit, hearing him made me cry and I didn’t want for him to know, because I think he has enough on his mind, but it did. Josh was in the middle of the desert of Iraq, on a mission, one that he told me is likely to last until he comes home. Oh my, I thought, that means they are in their vehicles with few amenities. Few amenities include no toilets and no way to bathe. Food, he said? Well, we might not be happy because he thought he had lost probably too much weight. Its’ hard to eat MRE’s when its 125 degrees out, he said. They can’t get us rations, the supply units can’t accommodate, when the sand starts blowing. They have him working nights mostly.. who says the army doesn’t know what its doing! They know to take advantage of that man’s insomniac tendencies, that would be the negative trait he inherited from his mother. We talked a little about life here, a little more about life there, and then it was time for him to go.
You hear a lot about sending a mixed up kid to the army. The idea is that it will straighten him out. You hear a lot today about post traumatic syndrome. The news makes a lot of this. I know this. War and soldiering changes you. Being in a combat zone for 15 months really does change you. But, I am sure its like anything, it will change the person in the way that life would have changed him anyway, it just does it faster. I know Josh well enough to know that this is something that will change him into what God wants him to be. And I know him well enough to know that he spends some time out there in the desert sands of the Middle East thinking about the big picture. In the best of worlds, every human deserves freedom and even in the little bit of time he and I spent Saturday, talking, I know that he has hope despite all this tiredness and effort and heat. He hopes that down the road somewhere, that his actions as a soldier and those of all those who serve with him, will prove of value as they seek to protect the concept of freedom. I am not talking about what governments want, but the desire that lies in the soul of humankind.
“We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights, among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, that to secure these rights governments are instituted among men. …And for the support of this declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine providence, we mutually pledge our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honor.” Thomas Jefferson
Jesus said “…you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” John 8:32