Sunday, January 16, 2005

What is the true price of war?

Invariably you hear the question that is always asked in interviews with the many people who are not in the family of the soldier - the soldier who has died in a war far away. This question, the one that is always asked, usually takes the form of "Was the life given by this soldier worth it?".

More often then not the answer is "yes", followed by reasoning that includes words like country, democracy, freedom, and hero - most of us would not expect it to be otherwise.

The story that you do not hear is the one that begins when you ask the child of the dead soldier "Was it worth it?" To answer this question will take a good part of this child's lifetime - a lifetime that will be filled with the questions that are never asked: What man other then my father will be there to give me the guidance, the direction, and the praise that will become the foundation of the man that I will become? What man, other then my father, will make the same effort and derive the same satisfaction with the failures and successes of my life? How will I be able to draw strength from the memories that were never made? - memories that would simply recall a look or a few words that only my father could convey.

One day, many decades in the future, each of these children will be far more able to decide the true price of war. Far more able, that is, then those who normally answer the question that is always asked.

For those of us interested in assuring these children today that the cost was necessary we must seek to understand the price that they will pay. This understanding will only come about by asking ourselves the questions that are never asked. But remember, to get an honest answer we will have to get on our knees and look 40 years deep into the eyes of the boy who will become the man that his father will never know.