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Written by Sherry   
Wednesday, 30 May 2007 07:49

This is the sort of annual event that only two other cities in the US, Annapolis, Maryland and Newburgh, NY, witness: The annual military academy graduation with it's dramatic fly-overs over the town.

It is Air Force Academy graduation day - in this heavily military town, in the midst of a long war.

The war in Iraq is not an abstraction here. Thousands of local residents are in the middle of or preparing for their third tour of duty in Iraq. Liz, who is very active in my parish and generously loans Fr. Mike her car "Lazarus" when he is in town, is also a Colonel and has served in both Iraq and Kuwait. Men and women in military fatigues are a common sight - at Mass and around town.

On many flights back to Colorado Springs, I have sat near returning soldiers or watched their eager families waiting to greet them. As I watch and listen to them, I wonder:

How do you deal with the pressures of separation and possible injury and death? How do you deal with what you see, hear, and do on the battlefield? How do you, as a lay apostle, responsible for issues of government and war and peace, find your way through the minefield of moral and spiritual dilemmas involved?

A couple weeks ago, a retired military man gave his testimony at our parish. In passing, he mentioned that he had been away from the Church for many years before returning to the practice of the faith after retirement. One reason? For years, he had carried the keys to nuclear missiles around his neck and he felt he could not do that and practice his faith at the same time.

It is the sort of story you hear in a town like this. Where the local paper produced this moving on-line memorial to local soldiers who have died in Iraq since 2003.

All 219 of them. As of Monday.

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