Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Purple hearts

The division commander, Major General C, came to present our young injured troops with purple hearts in the hospital last week.  These were the boys injured in the VBIED whom I previous wrote about previously (see "Weeping heart").  None of the physical injuries sustained in the attack will leave these soldiers permanently disabled, though they lost 2 close friends, and the screening from the trauma incidentally found 2 advanced tumors in 2 separate soldiers.  For this they have the psychological burden of thte attack, and foul luck.

In the tiny hospital ward, a dozen or so Army Rangers packed in between we medical personnel to take part in a ceremony to award the purple hearts.  Purple hearts are for soldiers injured in the field of battle and represent one of the oldest awards given by the military - dating back to the American Revolution.  It was somber, and a sobering 5 minutes for each of the injured.  These were granted by the general along with meritious service medals, so the whole thing took close to 45 minutes.  As I stood among the Rangers and the other physicians and nurses listening to the citations being read, my spine stiffened with a sense of the honor shared among these men, and the privilege of their witness. 

I can also attest that I am pleased to know that these are the special operations guys - the guys who go deep into enemy lines.  I am not a small man, but each one of these hulking masses stood 2-4 inches higher than me, with the breadth of their shoulders equal to mine plus me sideways, while maintaining a similar waistline.  It was as though I was wandering amidst a crowd on a planet with a different species of humanoids.  Each one of them appeared to be capable and proficient with snapping men's necks between their thumbs and forefingers.  They are well disciplined and professional, but their anger after this cowardly attack has tightened their resolve, and focused them in their pursuit.  I am glad that they are on my side, and I fear for our enemies.

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