Does this mean that I love war, or think it is a good thing? No, rather, war is something that can cause us to consider that there is something more important than life, comfort and safety. That something, greater that ourselves, worth fighting for, worth living for, and worth dying for, is freedom. In this life, that freedom is the freedom from tyranny and oppression. Freedom to live and dream and hope and try and fail, and try again. In this life, regardless of physical freedom, we have a chance to choose eternal freedom, the freedom from fear of death, the freedom to live.
Anyway, here are some stories about those who have come through the fire (much, much more than I) and will have ghosts and fears, but also a new appreciation for life. First, a Sniper:
Boyish-looking and Midwestern to the core, John Ethan Place loves football games in the fall and traipsing through the woods hunting quail and deer with his dad, a retired school administrator.And then, a fight in the trenches:
Back home in Lake St. Louis, Mo., he's a regular at the nearby Baptist church.
He's also an expert at one of the most difficult aspects of warfare. He's a sniper, able to kill an enemy at 1,000 yards or more with a single shot.
On Friday, the 22-year-old sergeant received the Silver Star, the military's third-highest honor for bravery in combat.
In the battle for Fallouja, Iraq, in April 2004, Place had 32 confirmed kills, from April 11 to April 24, of insurgents who were trying to sneak into position to attack Marines from Echo Company of the 2nd Battalion, 1st Regiment.
The two soldiers crept along the trench line, bullets thumping into the dirt around them. One was a lanky family man, 36, with two young sons and a 15-year career at International Paper Co. The other was a petite, single woman, 23, the floor manager at a Nashville shoe store.
Sgt. Leigh Ann Hester handed Staff Sgt. Timothy Nein a grenade. He had the better arm. Nein hurled it at the insurgents, who were crouched in the same trench, firing their AK-47 rifles at the Americans in the early afternoon.
Hester and Nein inched forward, the two recalled, Hester firing her black M-4 assault rifle next to Nein's ear. By the time the soldiers climbed out of the trench, their lips were chapped from the heat, their faces smeared with dirt, and four insurgents lay dead or dying nearby.