Sunday, November 7, 2010
This morning when I woke up I had no idea who Brett Land was. It was just a name that appeared on the tv screen. So, I decided to try to find out who this person was.
I learned that he had gone to Bakersfield High School in California. Evidently he was in his physical prime, an accomplished athlete on the wrestling team there. He was born in 1986. He died last week on October 30th at the age of 24. He died far away from home. In Afghanistan. Killed by an improvised explosive device while under insurgent attack.
His wife Sarah had given birth to their first child three weeks earlier. A little girl named Rileigh. Brett had been looking forward to a brief return home at Thanksgiving to be with Sarah again, and to hold his daughter for the first time.
Brett's story is but one of the 1,260 such stories of young men and women who have died in combat since 2001. More such stories will continue to surface each week into the foreseeable future. Most of these soldiers died in their 20s or 30s. Brett was a 13 year old boy when the Twin Towers fell to terrorist attack. While he likely understood the gravity of the lives lost that day, he probably did not know how numbered his own days were.
Almost 10,000 soldiers have returned from the current conflict wounded both physically and emotionally, the course of their remaining days altered in ways hard to think about.
This is a week when perhaps we can be particularly mindful that these young soldiers, wounded or forever lost, were doing what they could to protect the freedoms we will each enjoy today, tomorrow, and for days to come.