The Loss of Innocence

The little guy’s favorite color is red. So when I told him this morning that it was red, white, and blue day at his preschool, he excitedly pulled his head and arms through his favorite red shirt, blissfully unaware of the incredible weight associated with the date. Those of us old enough to remember each have our own stories about this day 13 years ago but for someone like our not-yet-five-year-old son, the concept of terrorism doesn’t even exist. I know there will come a time when he starts asking more difficult questions beyond “What exactly does Daddy do in the Army?” and “Why does he have to go away so much?” and the simple answers we’ve provided thus far will no longer make the cut. Observing the detachment from innocence is one of the most heartbreaking byproducts of raising children.

Last night, Clay and I watched Obama address the nation on matters concerning our strategy in dealing with ISIS. Using phrases such as “strength and resolve”, Obama vowed that a US-led coalition “will conduct a systematic campaign of airstrikes against these terrorists” and his administration “will not hesitate to take action against ISIL in Syria, as well as Iraq.” While the September 11th attacks may not be as fresh on our country’s collective mind as they were back in 2002/2003, I can’t help but draw parallels between then and now. And for as much as I’d love to ensure that my husband remains safe by my side, I have legitimate concerns that doing too little could lead to catastrophic results down the road (not necessarily for the United States but definitely for civilians throughout the Middle East and beyond), especially with the current downsizing of our military. With multiple national security experts warning of ISIS sleeper-cells in the United States, there are fears that an ISIS threat to Americans at home is reality {source}. Even if such fears are unfounded, learning of the atrocities committed by the hands of ISIS are incredibly difficult to digest. And with ISIS flaunting its brutality as propaganda, it’s damn near impossible to dismiss.

It’s difficult to discuss the current state of the military without muttering the phrase “do more with less”. There is no question that the proverbial fat needed to be trimmed. But around the country, military families are bracing themselves for what may lie ahead. And despite the assurances of ‘non-combat operations’, there are thousands of military members currently receiving combat pay for their role in fighting ISIS. Like it or not, we are in combat ‘over there’. And to state otherwise is a smack in the face to those with literal boots on the ground and wings in the sky.  The faint drums of war are becoming louder, at least for our community. And as much as I’d like to retreat into the world of my little family of four and go about my daily routine as if there isn’t a cauldron of poison boiling in Iraq and Syria, the drums are becoming difficult to ignore.

September 11th will always be another date that will live in infamy. What was once just an ordinary day will be forever a considerable cloak worn collectively by our nation. Some may argue that our nation’s innocence was lost that day. In Love is the Higher Law, David Levithan wrote “What separates us from the animals, what separates us from the chaos, is our ability to mourn people we’ve never met.” Today I mourn those who lost their lives on that dreadful day. I also mourn those who have lost their lives fighting in subsequent wars. And I mourn those who have lost their lives at the hands of ISIS and other extremist groups around the world. But despite the weight of today, I also have hope, no matter how thin of a sliver. I have hope that the brief moments of solidarity, respect, and love that emerged in the aftermath of September 11th will return and remain – forever woven in our nation’s fabric. I believe our true nature shined bright during those moments. May we never forget.

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5 thoughts on “The Loss of Innocence

  1. You’re an amazing writer Karen. This is beautifully stated and I’m glad I was able to read! God bless you and Clay- we sure appreciate your service and sacrifice!!!

  2. Beautiful. That last paragraph sums up all of my thoughts on today and everyday. It is terrifying hearing about ISIS… and no matter what is said, there are troops already in combat. How long we pretend they aren’t is still yet to be determined… but as a military family I know this isn’t going to end quickly, easily or without more lifes lost.. which deeply saddens me.

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