"The greatest 'casualty call' in history."
Joe at Evangelical Outpost reflects on his new role as a Casualty Assistance Calls Officer informing families of fallen Marines of their loss. It made me all teary eyed but I managed to keep it together long enough to finish reading the whole thing.
Casualty Call: A Marine's Reflections on Good Friday
When a Marine is killed or seriously wounded, the duty of notifying the next of kin falls upon the Casualty Assistance Calls Officer (CACO). Normally the tasks of the CACO team (comprised of a senior NCO, a commissioned officer, and a chaplain) are carried out by the same people. But the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan have increased the need for more CACO teams and so I’ve been added to the roster of those assigned the morbid duty. Since my unit is one of the few active duty commands in the state, we’ve been assigned a large swath of Texas and are responsible for notifications over an area that spans hundreds of miles. Normally a command can expect to make “casualty calls” a year; we made that many this week alone.
Over 2000 years ago, the greatest “casualty call” in history spread throughout a small Roman province in the Middle East. The news that the truest friend, the most beloved son, the gentlest teacher anyone had ever known had been crucified must have spread like wildfire through the land, sparking the most profound grief our universe has ever known. From this side of the calendar we can’t begin to comprehend the magnitude of loss that must have weighed on the hearts of Christ’s followers, family, and friends. We look backward on Good Friday, seeing it from the perspective of the glory that came on Sunday morning. But they saw only the darkness and pain, the loss of hope and bewilderment; they saw nothing but heartbreak.
My phone may ring later this evening. I may have to don my uniform and put on a stoic front. I may have to drive for hours only to take the longer journey up someone’s front steps. I may have to knock on the door and see the melting expression of a parent’s dawning realization of why I’m standing on their porch. I may have to face the grief and pain and sorrow of a family that has lost someone they loved.
But I can offer them hope and take comfort in knowing that the heartbreak won’t last. After all, I know how the story ends. It may only be Friday. But I know that Sunday’s coming soon.