The guests started arriving from as early as 6 in the morning. A special hour to begin celebrations. But it's Christmas time, reason enough for an undertaking that had all the makings of a happy and unforgettable day.
There was no need to ask many questions. They were all, virtually to a man, willing to talk; publicly even, through W Radio microphones. They shared war anecdotes during the program dedicated to them. And they did so in such a way as to make those of us who aired questions about the whys and wherefores of the tragedy that befell them feel less uncomfortable about broaching the subject. There's no denying the weight of the tragedy that lies at the heart of what they recount. One senses, though, their marrow deep optimism, above and beyond the battle scars they will forever bear.
Fate chose to spare them death, but it has presented them with the challenge of getting on with life thereafter; which was never going to be easy. They know that. There's still so much out there for them. They know that as well. Aid from the government and citizens of Colombia in solidarity campaigns such as this is crucial to their future. Some will never again be what they once were, and will have to patiently assimilate that they do indeed have a second opportunity.
But they are definitely not alone. The figures of the donations made by radio listeners, The Office of the President and The Ministry of Defense attest to that. Over 2.5 million Euros raised for housing, study grants, electronic tablets, food baskets and toiletries and cosmetic products. They were also given, each one of them, a travel case. There were tears of joy. Extremely moving moments for these soldiers, for their families and relatives, and for all those in attendance. Economic and emotional compensation at last. One of the most significant contributions this year comes from Juan Diego Gomez, who has embraced the undertaking. PhD in Computer Science and a BIOS researcher, Gomez has placed all his knowledge in the field of biological and computer systems at their disposal, with a view to improving the lives of our war heroes.
Most of them were either minefield victims, or on the receiving end of bullets and explosions. But their spirit remains indomitable, as does their determination to carry on with their lives. They might well have been stripped of certain body parts, but not even physical mutilation can take away any of their unflinching will and desire to pursue the fulfillment of their dreams. They are all so young and so full of life that there can be no doubt they deserve a new beginning.
This post was originally published in the Spanish edition of The Huffington Post and has been translated into English.
Translated by Owen Thompson