A close friend of mine passed away yesterday.  He spent just over a year overseas fighting for his country and his families freedom. It was a part of himself that he was most proud of, and most torn by. He returned to the states in 2011 and has endured much heart ache and struggle since.

Now, I try and stay out of political anything because I feel that everyone is entitled to their own opinion. Such is the beauty of our free states. My own personal beliefs are strong, and more often than not, they’re the exact opposite of what’s regularly forced through the media. I’m born and raised a country gal. I’m reserved, overflowing with respect and humility, as is the majority of the family and friends I keep close. Just because we’re not marching the streets in protest of one thing or another, doesn’t make us a bunch of ignorant brutes.

Most of us middle class county folk are very well educated in our great nation’s history as well as current affairs. We love our land, we work our land, and we fight for our land and freedom. This is the one and only thing I will ever write publicly with even a fraction of anything political in it, so hopefully it will count for something.

In my opinion, (and it is just an opinion, so take is as you may, just please don’t take offence, as that is not my intention.) one of the great privileges we’re blessed with as Americans is the right to bear arms. The right to protect ourselves against tyrants foreign and domestic, gives  us each as individuals a sense of security, capability, pride, independence, and strength. We as a nation are a force to be reckoned with, and it isn’t solely because of politicians. When it comes down to the nitty-gritty ugly truths, we as a nation are great by the hand of our capable citizens and our willing soldiers.

Those who lay their lives on the line for our freedom are burdened with a love that is incomparable.  It’s heart that drives them to protect with strength and honor. They’re brave independent souls, and they have not grown into the great men and women they are by rolling over and playing the victim. Statistically, the majority of American soldiers were raised in homes that believe with all their hearts in the second amendment. In my eyes this is a beautiful thing.

Now, my point is not to start a debate about gun rights, or to go on some rant and rave about how we should be as a people, and what we should do as a nation. That is not my place, nor my earned right.  The reasoning behind my writing today, is merely to reflect on soldiers in general. I want to bring light to the humanity behind those who hold a finger on the trigger in the name of freedom. Everything comes with a price.

Soldiers are human, with bleeding hearts.  They are sons, daughters, husbands and wives. Mothers and fathers fight for their children, and they don’t always come back.

It’s easy to get so wrapped up in the politics of war that we often times overlook the people who are actually doing the ground work in fighting it. And even more often we fail to provide the compassion and understanding that our fighters deeply need upon return. Many soldiers fight a battle within that’s intense, its dark, and its very very real. Everyone copes in different ways.. Some turn to more wholesome remedies, and some turn to complete and utter self-destructive ways.  Either way, we owe it to our soldiers to listen, love, and offer respect and understanding.  Please, lets stop turning a blind eye, or offering only judgment to a soldiers actions post war.

My friend in particular turned to self-destruction. He was ridiculed for it by many. Unfortunately, after several failed attempts at cleanly lifestyle, his hauntings eventually got the best of him. Now, I’m no saint. I lost touch with him just the same as most of his other pre-enlisting friends did. We should have done better to show him the support he deserved.  As can be said in countless stories of similar tragedy.

Upon hearing news of his death, and spending time with his family, I was privilege to read a poem that he wrote amidst his battle with sobriety.  It was absolutely stunning!!!  Although I’d clearly love to share his words in their entirety, I wont out of respect for his privacy. But, I will share the beginning portion of his poem.  The part that tells about enlisting, and about the beginning of his struggle upon return. I’ll leave it there, and end it before it goes into the ugly details of his self destruction, and of his family and personal life.

 “A man so proud, a decision so great.

The places he’ll go, the things he’ll escape.

The tribulations and trials, the fight that’s within,

The wars that he faces will only begin.

The things that he’ll see, the scenarios apart,

Though what he don’t realize, it’s only the start.

The hardships, the joy, the coaster of emotion.

They all become one, as if only a notion.

Then time to return, all tattered and broken.

His soul starts to fade, getting smaller and darker,

Regretting that day that he meets the end marker.”

-An American Soldier