Esquire magazine has an excellent piece up called "The Things That Carried Him" about a fallen soldier's final trip home from Iraq.
It is a very well reported and well written piece however it is also gut wrenching to read and I came to tears several times while reading it. It has stuck with me all day today and at times, I well up just thinking about it. That being said, it absolutely deserves your attention. Regardless of your position on the war, the fact remains that there are plenty of people responsible for ensuring that our fallen military members make it home with dignity and respect, and the burden that these people take on, willingly in many cases, to try and lessen the grief of others is commendable. Obviously, I'd love for every one of those people to not have these kind of jobs to do, but sadly, they have plenty of work, and I'm sure that every family member left behind appreciates their efforts. I know that I do.
It's easy, as you go about your day and the coffee machine is on the fritz, or you have some bullshit meeting to attend, to be up in arms about your situation. We all have off days, Lord knows I've had more than my fair share, however when I read something like this it helps put things in perspective. I mean, we're all allowed to have crappy days, but my crappy day would be nothing compared to what some of these people see on an hourly basis. Similarly, it's hard to not feel anything but grief for the family left behind by the soldier at the focus of the article. Sure, my kids bug the crap out of me at time, but I still have them, can still hug them and love them and be bugged by them. To imagine that loss is harrowing.
Any way, it's a tough piece to read, but it's well worth it, if only to get an understanding of the many men and women who are there for the members of our military, and their families, should a soldier fall.