Stupid War!

25 May

Tonight, in my tiny hometown of Eupora, MS, there was a candlelight vigil for a fallen Marine. It was held at the local high school football field. And since this is a place where everybody knows everybody, I’m sure most of the town was in attendance. The marine, Corporal Justin Cooper, was killed in combat in Afghanistan last week. His body arrived home yesterday in a flag-draped casket accompanied by fellow Marines.

Justin was 22 years old. Before this tour in Afghanistan, he had already served two tours in Iraq … at 22 years old. Part of the reason this hits so close to home for me is that my youngest brother is also a soldier. He is in the Army National Guard and has already served one tour in Iraq. He and Justin are the same age. They walked across the field together at graduation, received their high school diplomas on the same night.

After graduation, Justin attended one semester of community college before joining the Marines. My brother, who had already joined the Guard, enjoyed only a few days of summer vacation before heading off to boot camp. From there, he was immediately sent to his AIT training. And after a few days of being home again, he was called to report for training camp, as he was to leave for Iraq in a little over a month. He was only 19 when he was called up for his first tour of duty.

He is on alert to be called to active service even now and will most likely return to Iraq within the next year. Every time I hear of a military death overseas, I think of my brother. I hope that he never gets that call to return to Iraq or Afghanistan, or possibly Iran before this whole thing is finally over. This latest tragedy makes the reality of war all the more real. My thoughts are with Justin’s family, with the people of my hometown.

It’s a close knit community. A tragedy that befalls one family affects all of us. Eupora is a small, Mississippi town with little opportunity. Many residents once found work in several factories that littered the town. Factories that are now gone, replaced by cheaper labor overseas. The unemployment rate is high, and so are the suicide and poverty rates. Many of the boys here become soldiers simply because there is nothing else for them to do. They all feel a sense of pride in making something of themselves, in serving our country, in protecting our freedoms. They all have seen things that would scar many of us for life. They all have families who worry about their safety when they are away and who grieve deeply when they never make it back.

Justin’s body will be laid to rest tomorrow afternoon, Memorial Day, a day set aside to commemorate U.S. men and women who have given their lives in military service to our country. So tomorrow, Memorial Day 2008, please take a few moments to pray for our service men and women and their families. Take a few moments to think about the freedoms that these kids (most of them are just kids) give their lives to protect. Take a few moments to think about what you were doing at 22, and then think about these kids who are spending their youth fighting unpopular wars, leaving behind family and friends, never sure if they will see them again in this life.

Related: Fallen Marine heroic, selfless

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3 Responses to “Stupid War!”

  1. stushie Sunday, May 25, 2008 at 10:41 pm #

    Memorial Day Sonnet

    If Liberty means anything to me,
    I will remember what my freedom cost,
    By those who gave their all to keep me free,
    Whose lives were sacrificed, but never lost.
    I will remind myself of what they did,
    And keep them dearly cherished in my heart;
    Their honor never from me shall be hid
    And I will know they always did their part
    To save our nation and its people here,
    To pledge their lives in defense of our ways,
    To show that freedom always outlives fear,
    And sacrifice is hallowed all our days.
    If Liberty means anything to me,
    I will remember those who kept me free.

    © John Stuart 2008
    Pastor at Erin Presbyterian Church,
    Knoxville, Tennessee

    Audio at:
    [audio src="http://media.libsyn.com/media/stushie/Memorial_Day.mp3" /]

  2. cliff davis Saturday, July 5, 2008 at 10:52 pm #

    he didnt think it was to stupid of a war so watch wat u write

  3. laurajeanette Wednesday, July 16, 2008 at 10:47 am #

    Cliff, read the entire post, and you’ll understand the title.

    By the way, there are a few people out there searching for you online. Seven people today ended up on my blog by googling your name and Mississippi. Just thought you might be interested in knowing that.

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