March 29th, 2017
By Brayden Yoder, Fellow
It was the desert that answered, years after I first heard the question: “Ohhh, Soldier,” we used to sing, “ where have you been?” Those that have marched to this cadence can recite the answers of previous generations, who had been to Korea and Normandy, San Juan Hill, Lexington, and all around the globe, “fighting for liberty; dying for freedom.” After 9/11, my brothers and sisters in uniform and I could contribute a new verse: I’ve been to Baghdad.
I felt proud that years from now, when my grandson asks me what I did in the great war on terror, I wouldn’t have to tell him, (to paraphrase General Patton), “I sat on the couch playing video games next to Mama.” Yet like many of us, I left Iraq and the military strangely unfulfilled by the war I always thought I wanted. Every question the desert answered about my abilities as a leader opened up others for me as a human being.