26 JAN 2008 The duty doesn't end
Today, a friend sent me an article about Sgt. Blair Emery from USAToday. He died 30 NOV 2007 in Iraq. When his body came through the hospital, news that a troop had died spread through the staff like a bitter chill that was unwelcome, but you couldn't help but feel deep in your bones. The next morning his name was on the list of Significant Incident Reports. Then he was gone. His body was flown to Dover for processing. We had other patients to care for coming in the door every day. Even if we were able to put Blair's death out of our minds, there were more deaths to chill our spirits again.
Now that I'm home, war casualties are no longer in my hands. But my connection to them continues. Just as I will be linked to the little girl S. whom we helped after her gunshot wound, I will be linked to those who lost their lives while in Iraq while my fate was to carry mine home.
I can't say that it is a welcome experience to learn more about Sgt. Emery and his neighbor from Lee, Maine, Joel House, who died a few months before. It actually makes me angry to think of a life with broad potential cut short. But it is the right thing to learn more about him. We couldn't do anything to undo the damage caused by the explosion under his HMMWV, but we can do him the honor of recognizing he was an individual, and remembering him as we go forward. My deployment may be done but that duty will continue.