Support Our Troops
We had a distinguished visitor yesterday afternoon. Alan Barnhart, on leave from Afghanistan, and his dad, Mike, came over for a visit. We got to know Alan and his family during the ten years or so we lived as their neighbors. Alan was a bright-eyed, laughing boy and he and sister, Katie, loved to play with our grandson, Zach, when he visited us.
One of their main objectives was to build a dam across a very small stream that ran at the bottom of our meadow. Usually only a trickle, they would build an elaborate dam across it, dust their hands and say, “This one will last!” And it did. Until the next rain came along. Then they would build it higher and wider and declare it sound. We would watch as Alan, Katie and older sisters, Cassie and Jessica got on the school bus or stood watch from our porch window when it was raining.
Now all the kids are out on their own; and Alan has become one of those sometimes nameless soldiers we see coming off planes or handling big guns and driving jeeps and tanks. They look so strong and competent, don’t they? And they are. But underneath that camouflage clothing and helmet, they are beloved sons and daughters; loved and prayed for and missed.
Home for two weeks to attend his grandmother’s funeral, Alan took time to visit with us. With humor and nonchalance he told us how he and his group search for landmines. How they use metal detectors to find them; buried anywhere from two inches to a foot under the sand. How they carefully uncover them and leave them for another squad to detonate. He told us that since he has been deployed on this duty, they’ve sent 31 men home without one or more limbs. How quickly the medics evacuate them. He told us how the most vulnerable places on the body were protected.
So matter of fact. So casual. Sitting in our living room where no bombs fell, no threat of enemy attack was even thought of. But I could see him looking at this or that object and it was plain to see that he was storing up memories for the long nights when his nerves did not have to be on high alert as he swept that metal detector back and forth across the sands of a foreign land.
As you read this, Alan will be back in Afghanistan. He will again be part of America’s fighting force. Another six months on that duty, then he will be done with war. Another few months in Colorado and then home. Alan wants to be an elementary school teacher like his dad and he has three years of college at Indiana University to his credit. He will make a wonderful teacher with his ready wit and laughing disposition.
But for now he is in Afghanistan. And you can be sure he is prayed for! Remember our troops and add your prayers to those of their families. God bless America.