I got an email from a dear wonderful longtime friend today. She told me that a cousin of a friend of mine had died last month in Iraq. He was only 20-years-old. It has been so hard on his family. Those words don't express it and I know I can't even imagine how hard it has been. I read his obituary and the young man's face did not seem old enough to be that of one who had gone to war. There are so many things that his life could have held and they were stolen away here.
They come to us every day, hurt, bleeding, still brave, and some even joking as they lay strapped to a Nato gurney. They are so young and it practically never happens that I see an injured troop even close to my age. I do however see the old Iraqi men and women who come to us, dazed, wrapped in dusty, perforated, and blood-stained robes, their bare feet calloused and dirty. I suppose I have to be thankful for the ones who make it to our doors because others who didn't survive the blast still lay out there and don't get a helicopter ride to our hospital.
As I passed through one of the military airports on the way here, I was given a care package by a member of the USO. There were the usual snacks: candy bars, some tasty beef jerky. I got a mini tube of toothpaste, a toothbrush and some lip balm. At the bottom was a sweet card from a gradeschooler "Kristin" who had drawn a picture of her class and offered words of support. There also was a MIA remembrance card for Matt Maupin.
Keith Matthew "Matt" Maupin was captured while on convoy in Iraq in 2004. Last time I was here I saw his face on posters in the DFAC. His was a young full face with a quizzical smile and calm eyes. His parents continue to search for him and maintain a website where I got the picture of Matt below. When I saw his face at the bottom of my care package I knew that things were the same in Iraq. The hospital still needed surgeons and Matt was still missing. The remembrance card was marked "Love Never Loses Its Way Home." The Wikipedia site dedicated to Matt reveals that it is a South African proverb. Don't forget Matt. Don't for get any of them. Get them home. That's all I got.