Major (Ret'd) Harold A. Skaarup told two other stories that broke my heart once again. After listening to Stephen Puddicomb speak, I'm still not really 'over it' and I just wanted to run out of the auditorium but as always, I'm so glad I stayed.
He told us a story of ten villagers who didn't speak his language but linked arms to stop them from hitting a mine in the road. They couldn't thanks the strangers because there would be retaliation but these people risked their lives to save his.
The second story involved a man running towards Skaarup's convey, arms flailing wildly. Of course, numerous guns were aimed on him quickly - who was he? Was he dangerous? What did he want? There was a flash flood that had caught two children. One was rescued but the other, a little girl, was still under the water. The water was sludge and sewage but one of the men Skaarup was with jumped in and hauled the little girl out. In the water, he began giving her mouth-to-mouth but no one was able to say it had been too long - about 15 minutes. The little girl was dead. The villagers came around to the man and although they couldn't speak in his language, just put their hands on his shoulder to say 'it's okay, we know you tried.' The power of these sorts of stories - the ones that aren't told - are just overwhelming. The village had previously been hostile but because of this, because this man had tried to save this little girl, they were always welcome.
I can't really state an overarching moral or life-lesson to this story - it's heartbreaking and sad - but the power that was in those words, the crack in his voice, the apology for showing true emotion, that's true humanity. It's more powerful than a few words on a blog - but it needs to be remembered.
Skaarup left us with this and so, I'm going to finish with it.
"We are not over there to fix the problem...We're trying to keep it there so it doesn't come here."