Military heroes are part of a growing trend in our writing world. There are unstoppable Navy Seals with paranormal powers. There’s the damaged hero returned from war, willing to risk everything he has and is once again for the woman he loves. There are action adventure soldiers, video-game soldiers, and comic-book soldiers.
At the same time, marines, sailors, army and air force service men and women come home and write about the horrors that still populate their nightmares. They give us a look at the lives they left behind, and the new lives they are attempting to build in the damaged bodies in which they now live.
Almost daily we hear about new medical breakthroughs inspired by the needs of so many men and women whose lives were saved by rapid response to medical emergencies. And once their lives are safe, the scientists, doctors and therapists turn their attention to inventing and fine-tuning new limbs to replace those blown away. To retraining muscles to take up the work of those that are no longer there. They search for new approaches to rebuilding the memories and mental skills of the severely brain-injured. And they pray for the knowledge and compassion to meet the needs of those service men and women who cannot forget team mates who will never return to their families, or who struggle endlessly over what they have seen and done in the name of protecting our nation.
So while we delight in writing and reading about imaginary heroes, I hope we are remembering what those who serve have sacrificed for us to have the freedom and opportunity to create our military characters, to send them into imaginary situations and bring them out the other side, feted as honored heroes and wise defenders of family and nation. It makes for great stories. Who doesn’t love the hero, capable of saving everyone weaker then he, and everlastingly strong and whole?
But the reality is that not all those who serve resemble those brawny specimens we create on our pages. The fictional men and women (maybe not as brawny as the men) who storm to the rescue, and leave with whole body, heart and soul. Not all our soldiers remain whole of body or spirit. Because our nation’s soldiers are not characters we can mold to an ideal image, plucking away all the elements of the battle and personal struggle in their story until they reach the happy ending.
The reality is that our vets need our continuing support. The men and women currently serving need our support, no matter what we may think of their mission. They stand for us, so that we don’t have to make that sacrifice. And if we believe we can ask them to do that – to stand between us and those who wish to harm us – we need to stand with them when they have done so.
And when we have the chance, I hope we remember to step forward and say thank you, in any way we can.
1. Hire a vet
2. Volunteer with, or financially support, one of these veterans’ organizations, or any other of your choice [check any organization out to make sure it’s valid and the vets get the care and financial assistance promised]
3. Visit a local VA hospital and just talk to a veteran
4. Read or re-read Final Salute: A Story of Unfinished Lives, by Jim Sheeler [affiliate link]
5. And most of all, remember those we are no longer able to talk with, to hug, or to share this Fourth of July with because they made the ultimate sacrifice so we could be free to celebrate this day.
Have a happy, safe Fourth of July