Tonight, while sitting on a plane in Boise, I saw what happens after.
The draped coffins end up in flag painted boxes for their final trip home. The family stands on the runway with the military represetatives as the box is disassebled and the coffin is removed from the plane. It was ironic, because it came off a United plane, after the rest of the luggage and cargo, and if you hadn't been looking out from the side of our plane, you wouldn't have even known it was happening. But to see the family, huddled together, crying on the tarmac, as their loved one is being carried from the plane to the hearse by the guard, you wonder, do they believe it was worth it? Is their pain worth it for me to live in a better world? And for the dead, did they suffer? Did they make it out of Iraq only to end up dieing in Germany or Bethesda? Did they get to say goodbye? Did they die feeling betrayed by a country who did not support the war they were fighting? And the more mundane thoughts of, did they get to find out who won the election? Were they upset when Joey got kicked off "dancing with the stars" or that "Lost" was on hiatus until February? Did they hear John Kerry's botched joke, and what did they think of it? Did they read the editorial about Rumsfeld in the military paper?...But you see it come off and be loaded, and then they salute and all get into the waiting military vans to take them off the tarmac, and you almost forget that there is a person inside that wooden box, until you see the officer walk to the final car with their bag of personal items, and it becomes real again...You see this seen play out and you can picture it happening across the country, at all hours of the day, with no end in sight.