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A yellow pin is a poignant reminder for me

The pin fell off the closet shelf as I was getting dressed and it hit with a thud at my feet.

"God Bless My Brother in Saudi Arabia."

I read the black print on the face as I picked it up. There was a yellow ribbon attached to the bottom of the pin. It must have been on that shelf for years, but I couldn't remember putting it there.

What I did remember was wearing it during Operation Desert Storm. How odd that I should come upon the pin on the morning after President Bush's speech giving Saddam Hussein and his family a deadline of 48 hours to get out of Iraq?

As I put it back in its place, I thought about what may be ahead for our nation and our world.

War - it is such a frightening word. The images it conjures up are not pleasant ones. There is no happiness in the thought of war.

Just before he shipped out to the Persian Gulf during the last war with Iraq, I talked with my Marine brother on the telephone. He was ready to go and do his duty, even though at the time he could not tell his family where he was going or even if he was going for sure.

We read between the lines of the conversation and knew he was calling to say goodbye before leaving for combat.

The pictures of soldiers in a desert far away are back on the television as the world holds its collective breath. When will the first strike come? How long will the conflict last and how many lives may be lost?

There is a deep sadness when I consider those questions. I think about the families of the soldiers who wait at home. I also think of the innocent civilians in Iraq who may find themselves in the middle of a fire storm.

Inside I am struggling with my own conflict because I admit I have mixed feelings about a war. There is a part of me that believes war is never the answer. I keep hearing that commandment "Thou shalt not kill," over and over in my head.

Then there is the other part of me. That part wonders how many lives could have been saved if some brave country had stopped Hitler in his early days in power.

I also lived through Vietnam when boys my age were fighting and dying in a land far away. The name of my paper boy showed up on the list of casualties and I have never forgotten the feeling I got reading it.

So I, like the rest of the country, wait for what comes next. And while I struggle with thoughts about the rightness of war, I am not conflicted about my feelings toward the soldiers who are prepared to fight when their President gives the command.

They need our prayers and our unwavering support. They need to know their country is behind them and anxious for the day when they return home.

For the soldiers' families who wait and watch and pray for an early end to this conflict, the days to come will not be easy ones. I know because I have a yellow pin in my closet.