Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Making It Real

Since the Iraq war began, reports the Associated Press, more than 1,800 U.S. military men and women have died, most in combat. For the past two years, newspapers and TV news have reported on the too-often tragic action, but I often read the headlines and moved on. It's such a faraway tragedy, I'd think.

Then the son in a family I'd know for 20+ years joined the Marines. He came to church at least once in his uniform: standing straight and hadsome, and causing young women to swoon rather than hear the sermon. After a year's training, he went to Iraq.

When Memorial Day rolled around this year, I gave some change to the V.A. and was given a paper poppy, which I have kept in my car ever since, using it as a touchstone to remember Nick and pray for his safety.

Yesterday, he and 13 other Marines were ambushed and killed in Iraq. Now those 1,800 soldiers dead suddenly feel very much more real than ever before. Especially Nicholas Bloem.