The school assembly I attended on Friday featured a video about the Highway of Heroes (the stretch of highway on which fallen Canadians travel upon their arrival back in Canada.) When a soldier is being transported the road side and overpasses are packed with people, waving flags and paying their respects. These people, mostly strangers, come out to honour the returning hero and they look genuinely sad at the loss of one of our soldiers.
It made me a bit teary. The images of these mourning crowds are pretty intense, and it all hits a little close to home these days. All I want is for my sailor to come home safely.
Later in the weekend, I obsessively googled Afghanistan Remembrance Day because my sailor told me journalists from a national news station were coming for the last Canadian Remembrance Day ceremony in Kabul. I started looking too early, and only found one photo–three Canadian soldiers reviewing a list of names for an upcoming medal ceremony. I squinted into the grainy screen. Could the one on left be my sailor? It’s hard to tell because they all look so, well, uniform in their matching uniforms.
I emailed him the story with a big fat question mark.
“Is this you???”
“No, I’m slimmer than that guy. My daily workouts in 40C are paying off.”
Clearly he’s been away far too long if I can no longer recognize him (or not him) in pictures.
The dark side of that debonair uniform and the collection of medals my sailor sports across his chest is a single word: Afghanistan.
Sailors are supposed to serve aboard ships and live in pretty seaside towns. Nowhere in that vision is a journey to a desert on the other side of the world. He assures me that he will be safe, working at a quiet job in an office that is, above all, safe. (He repeats that word like a mantra every time I question him about his upcoming deployment–safe, safe, safe.)
I understand the mission is being scaled back and he won’t be involved in a combat role, but I also recall the list of fallen Canadians that scrolls across the TV screen every Remembrance Day and I worry.
I am outraged when I read stories of women being abused or killed and little girls denied an education because of their gender and I think, someone needs to step up and protect these vulnerable people, but my resolve weakens when it is my husband who will be in danger.
We will have SKYPE and email for private communication and Facebook for more public updates. I’m able to access news reports twenty-four hours a day, learning about the situation there in live time.
I don’t know if that makes it easier or more difficult. Wives left behind when their husbands went to earlier wars didn’t have reports of every battle, every casualty. Did they worry less because the news wasn’t so immediate?