The first thing I saw on my Facebook newsfeed when I got home from church today was a post by my nephew who is in Afghanistan. It was a collection of three pictures; young men who lost their lives on July 23 when their unit was hit with an Improvised Explosive Device (IED). It was their first deployment. One of the young men had been in Afghanistan less than two months.
My nephew graduated from college in December of 2010; was married in September of the following year. This is his first deployment and in the few short months he has been there he has seen unspeakable things. Friends losing their lives and their limbs.
I’m not here to argue whether this war is right or wrong. Whether we should be in Afghanistan or not. But I worry about these young men and women and wonder how they can possibly come back whole after what they’ve been through.
I have a friend, singer/songwriter Darden Smith who has started an amazing program called Songwriting With Soldiers. The name is pretty self-explanatory. They hold retreats where soldiers can come and be listened to. And in listening, together the songwriters write songs with the soldiers. It has been life changing for all involved. The songwriters are taking what they do; giving their gift and honoring those who have given all for our country.
I know others who are working with veterans; taking therapy dogs to VA Hospitals and wherever they are needed to give comfort to young men and women who have seen things most of us can only begin to imagine. Doing their small part.
Singer/Songwriter Carrie Newcomer has a wonderful song called “Stones in the River”. The chorus goes:
So today, I’ll drop stones into the river
And the current takes them out into forever
And the truth is most of us will never know
Where our best intentions go
So I’ll drop another stone
While I am immensely saddened to see that three more young men have lost their lives, this blog is about gratitude. First, I am grateful for the young men and women who make the greatest sacrifice for our country. I pray that we as a nation can find the right way to express that gratitude, regardless of what we believe about this war or any other war.
I am grateful for those who are doing their part. Darden Smith and all of those at Songwriting With Soldiers; my friends who take their therapy dogs out to comfort our veterans; there are many others doing what they can; dropping their stones.
Now it’s my turn to ask myself. What stones am I dropping in this river of life? What can I do to make a difference?
P.S — I invite you to check out what they’re doing at Songwriting With Soldiers. There are digital albums available of songs written at these retreats and other ways you can help if you feel so inclined.