In the territory surrounding and encompassing  northern Georgia last year, several wildfires were set off. The area has seen its fair share of fires, typically claiming three or four acres of underbrush and deadfall. Last years fires, however, claimed hundreds of acres, and the damage can still be seen today. I walked through the aftermath of those infernos this week, and was struck with a couple thoughts.

The terrain has been completely ravaged, tree trunks are charred, and the soil itself bears the blackened scars of ash and embers. The entire place screams of the disaster. But, there is something else to see. Through the burning, and removal of all the brush, the terrain has now become a blank canvass. The ash has worked its way into the soil to create a nutrient rich mix, ready to bear an entirely new eco-system. I say all that because it gives me a lot of hope. It gives me hope that we can heal, and by “we” I mean all the families that have been scorched in the fire of war. It gives me hope that we can all grow back to be healthier, stronger, and more productive than we were when we started, but that is going to take some work on our end. 

First of all, to the men and women who are going through the ringer as far as PTS, or similar circumstances, you are going to have to admit you need help. To the father that is separated from his family, you are going to have to force yourself to understand that “never leave a fallen comrade” applies just as much to your family as it does to your brothers and sisters at arms. You took an oath, you donned a Creed, an ethos. Live by it.

To the family of those individuals, you are going to have to trust, pray, and hope. You are going to have to force yourselves to understand that sometimes, your loved one has a physical or psychological wound that will not allow him or her to think strait. And when all is said and done, whatever the outcome, you are going to have to forgive. Not just for your father, or brother, sister or daughter, but for yourself. “Bitterness keeps you from flying.” In the words of Tim Mcgraw. 

And finally, to you, the reader, if you can’t relate to those already mentioned, you have a job to do as well. You need to pray, to whatever God or gods you worship, pray for all those who bear this or similar burdens. Then you need to do good. The burden is on the Warrior to fight for his nation, but in our nation, it is the people who tell him where to go, who to fight. It is on you to make sure that our sacrifices are not for vanities sake, or to line the pockets of some rich politician, he is no better than the Taliban, or any other savage that deserves a shallow grave. 

From the ashes, anyone can rise, regardless of where you come from, your profession, your family, or your circumstances. Embrace the fire, let it mold you, and then fight to heal from it. 

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