My people have been warriors since our first memory of existence.  Because of this we have an understanding of what it does not only to the person, but to the community when a warrior goes into battle.  Being a warrior is a sacrifice. It means not only leaving behind everyone and everything you care about, but leaving behind a way of living, a way of being, and taking on a new one, one that has very different, harsh and demanding rules and laws.  It means setting aside the nurturing side of self and becoming a weapon.

This is something that we see glorified all the time in movies, TV, books, and comic books.  It’s the cool part of being at war.  But there is another side to this.  In my culture the process of coming home is just as important as the leaving and is given just as much care and focus by the community.  There are ceremonies to provide the warrior a safe and sacred place to begin feeling and healing the things which happened during their time of battle.  There are ceremonies to help them remember those things about themselves that they have set aside.  There are many times when the community sits together to listen to their stories of battle, not to glorify them, but to integrate them as part of the bigger story, the mythology or narrative of the community.   And all the needs of the warrior are met, whatever that might be.

veteransToday in the United States it is Veterans Day.  A national holiday to recognize and honor our veterans for their service.  As we have learned from our Viet Nam veterans, recognition and acceptance is required.  But perhaps today each of us can do just one thing more.  Perhaps we can look at all the need our veterans have and take on one project, do one thing that makes the day a bit better for a veteran.  How much better would we all be if our warriors were actually able to be home and be part of our lives?