Yellow Ribbons

3200 US soldiers have died in the Iraq war. The toll gets higher and higher everyday. Never mind the number of Iraqis, Iranians, Afgahnis and how many others have died. By the way, if you have not counted the numbers recently and said your own prayer of lament, here is your chance: http://www.antiwar.com/casualties/. [Prayerful silence.] Amen. So, you understand my concern. But, this death toll only struck our community a week ago. In this new home of mine, the community mourned the loss of our first loss. He was only 21. He was recently married. His name was Angel Rosa and he was Hispanic. I didn't think that last fact was important detail.

That is, until this week. This week, our community mourned the loss of another young man. He was also recently married and only 24. His name was Jason Swiger. And Jason was white.

And it was after his death that the yellow ribbons started to appear. They outline my drive from home to church like breadcrumbs to prevent any of us from getting lost. They are all over the place. I understand that this path was created from the tender grief of the friends and family of Jason Swiger. But, I have to wonder. Where were the ribbons last week? Why did they not appear until after our second loss?

I didn't think that race was important. I didn't think that it mattered that Angel Rosa was Hispanic. But, there were no ribbons when we were mourning Angel. There was confusion and sadness. There was woundedness. But, there were no ribbons. And now, there is an entire path. I hate to think that it's a race thing. But, I wonder.


T.B. said...

I have known Jason since he was a young boy and have been and am a friend of the family. Putting any kind of ethnic relationship to his or to Angel Rosa's tragic, but patriotic, deaths is uncalled for. Both families deserve our respect and honor for the dedication and service of both of these men. Maybe the ribbons weren't up earlier but I bet if you ask those who put them up, you'd be told they are for both these men and the many others who have given their all and the ultimate.

Songbird said...

If you read the news stories you'll find that Jason's mom was involved in a conflict with the town a few years ago about hanging ribbons. I doubt this has anything to do with race but rather is about one mother's energy around the ribbons, which well preceded the loss of her son.
t.b., I think you're being a little hard on the writer, who raises an interesting question about whether some people are valued more than others by the wider community. If that's not the case here, that's good news.

Pastor Peters said...

Songbird is correct. I wasn't questioning the valor of either young men. I also feel it is tragic that these men have died.

And maybe we couldn't put the the ribbons up earlier because we weren't ready. Our grief was too palpable. I don't know.

But, it was something that passed through my mind. Forgive me if it was uncalled for to ask the question.