Years ago, while at the house of some friends, they dug out the family album and showed me photos.
We reached the point where there was the graduation picture of the wife's brother. He was a handsome young man; full of happiness and the confidence of youth. She explained a little about him and how he was killed in Vietnam.
Her brother was in an armored division, so he rode a tank. In Vietnam, it was brutal duty, since the heat was horrible and much of the terrain would stop a tank within moments. A stopped tank was an easy target and many were killed at those moments.
There was another photo; the last she had. It was of her brother with his unit. The happiness was gone and the thousand yard stare apparent. We went on from that point; looking at the children, vacations and other parts of their lives.
Later, my friend - who served in the Calvary in Vietnam - told me the photo let him know his brother-in-law "knew". I asked for an explanation. He responded with the common knowledge his unit was in a terrible place and the expression told more than many could understand. His brother-in-law knew the deck was stacked against him and the knowledge wore heavy on his mind.
So, he didn't return. From what I remember, his tank caught fire and he was burned before he could escape. Time stood still for the young man and his family could only endure the horror of his death.
What can I write that explains the sadness and horror I feel? We're all humans, yet we can't escape the madness of war. Maybe it's part of our destiny, but it doesn't lessen the impact of the losses.
Say a prayer for those that died and for their families that remain. All the pomp, glory, twenty one gun salutes and flags on coffins are so inconsequential compared to a life. It's a precious thing they gave in service to all of us.