I’ve been fighting tears, somewhat unsuccessfully, since Saturday when we learned about this helicopter crash. Although each individual soldier is important and special, three of the soldiers involved worked at my husband’s office. He knew them all.
Today it is unthinkable, but there is no official count of the number of American casualties on D-Day. A low-ball estimate of 2500 is an incredibly staggering number. I can’t imagine my mind trying to live through that time and trying to grapple with that magnitude. But my guess is that you would just go numb. I mean, really, how many tears can you possibly shed in one day? And when the next day and the next and the next bring you the same news but with different names, at what point do you just dry your eyes and get on with life? Imagine the horrors of September 11th repeated over and over again for years.
When you spread out the same number of deaths over a much longer period of time, the pain is prolonged. There isn’t the anesthetizing effect that thousands dead in one instant has. When a dozen die, you can read every news article, every bio, every obituary. You have the luxury of mourning. But when over fifty thousand lie dead or wounded after three days fighting, as they did in the town of Gettysburg, there is no time for tears. You pick up your shovel and join the other women, children, and old men left to deal with the mess. And you pray you don’t recognize any faces.
Yesterday, our FRG had a special meeting to state what was known, to ask for support for any future assistance we might offer these families, and to discuss ways to help them. For a week or two, volunteers are needed to answer phones in a call center, and my neighbor and I will take turns watching the kids or working the phones. It’s not going to be a pleasant task listening to people cry on the phone, answering their questions, directing them to services, but I suppose it’s better than digging graves or dressing wounds. Fritz was over at my neighbor’s house yesterday afternoon and told me that she was baking cookies (and gave him one!). Today is her turn to do phone duty, and I’m sure she is planning to take those cookies to the call center. I spent my afternoon online looking up ideas for services we might offer the families. We’re keeping busy. We’re doing something, because that’s how we deal with it. If we do this, will it make it all better?
One of the soldiers has three adult children, one has five minor children, and one has two boys ages 9 and 5. One woman in the FRG said that the 9 year old asked his mom if he and his brother never fought again, would Daddy come home? If he does this, will it make it all better?