What Price Glory?
My old Army outfit, the 4th Infantry Division, has pretty much completed its return from a 15-month tour in Iraq, the third it has made to that war torn country. As one 200-member unit from the 1st Brigade Combat Team stood at attention on a Fort Hood, Texas field, family members waited nearby to greet husbands, sons, brothers and sweethearts.
Then came the command: "Sgt. Rosa! Rejoin your formation!"
To do so he needed the help of a friend who assisted him from a wheelchair. Sergeant Luis Rosa-Valentin had returned to the States earlier than his friends. Or part of him had. He left both legs and part of his left arm behind in Iraq. He had lost his hearing and his vision was impaired. The Army fitted him with artificial limbs but they couldn't make him hear again or do much to make him see a little better.
When he awoke from a coma in a Maryland hospital more than a year ago he made one thing clear: He wanted to be there when his unit returned home. The Army flew him to Fort Hood for the occasion.
You don't hear too much about the Sgt. Rosas. People don't want to know about things like that. They'd rather hear the bands play and see the flags wave. In every war and every country it has been that way down through the ages.
A reporter for the Killleen Daily Herald, Amanda Kim Stairett, wrote about Staff Sgt. Rosa. Bob Babcock, who has supplied details of the Ivy Division's three trips to Iraq several times each week, passed it along. The networks and the news channels and the wire services apparently didn't feel it was worth repeating. Not surprising since it doesn't do much for the average person's image of war. Hard to find the part about glory in this account. Difficult for those who weren't there, but like to say what "we" did, to pick out something to boast about.
Sergeant Rosa will never stand on his own two feet again. He will never pick something up with both hands. He will never hear the sound of music. His wife and children will be a blur when he looks at them. Many return from every war like that.