It’s almost the Fourth of July. Always a day for patriotism, it also serves as a time when we think about the wars that helped create this nation. And this year, we have a war that is ongoing, one that provokes many mixed feelings. A look in the Library Catalog reveals a spate of writing on the subject—under the subject heading Iraq War, 2003 are 383 entries alone, plus dozens of subdivisions. The available literature on the war covers a wide range of concerns, from the haunting Baghdad Journal: an artist in occupied Iraq to books on returning war wounded and those suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.
Speaking of those wounded, their numbers are and will continue to be (until the conflict ends) large. When I was a child I was unaccountably frightened by amputees. Such fear faded with time, and was cured by the return of a childhood friend from Vietnam minus a hand and a leg. Since the war in Iraq started, sources report that more than 29,000 people have been wounded. An enormous number of soldiers, male and female, have lost body parts while on active duty.
Such a great number of wounded soldiers, especially when they return to civilian life, will definitely have an impact on our society. Their experiences and stories may well eliminate the shock and fear that so impressed me as a child. If we have increased contact with those things that once inspired fear, it is more than likely that this anxiety will be replaced by worthier emotions. I think our returning wounded soldiers will become a great source of positive inspiration. Receiving two metal replacement knees and spending two weeks in a rehab hospital back in 2006 taught me a lot about personal challenge. Imagine what our returned wounded soldiers can teach us all about courage, compassion, healing, and the fine art of getting by.
This holiday, let’s set a firm fashion, and vow to celebrate and look out for the welfare of these real American heroes. Remember, also, that our main and branch libraries will have a lot of information, online and printed, that can help us track their progress.
p.s. Their caregivers are heroes, too!