Your soldier was a hero. You hold that to yourself.

Think for a moment. You’re the wife, husband or mother or father of one of our dead soldiers. You’ve been informed. You’re wading through the grief and even more overwhelming than the grief is the need to know MORE! How did they die? Could there be a mistake in identifying the body? What weapons and what individuals were responsible? Was it Al Qaeda? What lead to these soldiers driving that particular route? Who was saved? Who was going to be in the LAV alongside, but duty and fate called them in another direction? You don’t begrudge these soldiers their lives. You are so glad they are alive. You have an overwhelming need to put together the puzzle of your soldier’s last few days.
¬†You are not alone. You do not have time to think. Important members of the army are on the phone and in your home. The Prime Minister calls. You knew he would. It’s protocol.
He sounds different on the phone. He says he is sorry and thanks you for your own contribution in your support. You believe him. The phone call is awkward but meaningful. You move on through your duties over the day. It’s a score you play in an unfathomable symphony.
Over the hours you are elated. Destroyed and elated. How will you go on? How could you not go on? Your loved one died defending the tenets of democracy and freedom. Life and death happens for a reason. You will never know exactly what it is he or she went off to do but you hold onto the knowledge that but for your brave soldier more women might suffer the fate of this mutilation:

Your soldier was a hero. you hold that to yourself.
You never know until it happens but the newly dead walk past your window. You see them constantly out of the corner of your eye. This will fade. They will never fade from your memory but they walk through your dreams less over time and become more real in your accounts of them to others over the years.
You remember the first time you saw your son/daughter/wife/ husband’s smile. You remember them telling them they loved you. That insignificant fight.
The TV and newspapers intrude into your grief. No-one from the media actually rings you. They wouldn’t dare. But you still see the headlines:

 You are puzzled. They seem to be saying the death of your soldier was futile. That it was all for nothing.
You can forgive Phil Goff his opinion. He did after all have a nephew killed in Afghanistan. But it gives you a funny feeling, this talk about troop withdrawal on this day of your beloved’s death.
You stop reading NZ headlines when you see this in the NZ Herald:
“Should NZ troops be pulled out of Afghanistan early?”
 Other nations pay tribute to your soldier. You read the international headlines only.
¬†Anything you can find. Anything that pays tribute to the loss of the soldier. There are so many. Every time you refresh your screen you see more tributes. For a small nation, your soldier’s death has attracted a lot of international attention.
Their death was not futile; they marked, mourned and celebrated. All around the world.
Your soldier was a hero. You hold that to yourself.

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