"I'm sorry I must leave, but I must do what is asked of me by my God, my Country, and my Corps.. and so, the war blog begins, again." ~B

31 December 2009

The Ticking Clock

Happy New Year.

I have found a corner away from the celebrating going on at my house...a quiet little place to be in the moment.

Tomorrow, I will wake up and enjoy my day off. I will enjoy my family and laugh with them. But in this moment, I am sad. I have just said goodbye to the best friend and the best friend-in- law. They are leaving early tomorrow to go back to the base across the country.

It is the last time I will see him until 2011.

It was the last time I got to see him, got to hug him, before he goes back to war. Afghan-style this time.

Since he arrived, the clock has been counting down to this moment. Never audible, but always ticking. During every board game, every video game, every movie, every laugh, every toast, every meal, during every moment- the clock was ticking.

There is never enough time to do all that you want to do, to say all the words you want to say...

It has been about 20 minutes since I said goodbye.

I have decided that it wasn't any easier this time than the last time. My heart hurts just the same. I feel a little nauseous. I feel the same pressure behind my eyes from tears that want to fall, if only I would let them. One or two may have snuck out, but I'll never admit to it if you ask. I feel apprehensive and raw. If I was willing to admit it, I'd also say I was feeling a little scared.

War ripples, like a stone dropped in a lake.

I think war has a physical weight you can actually feel if you are paying enough attention. Maybe it is the result of all the stones that gather at the bottom of the lake....

The Marines and Uncle Sam are about to borrow my best friend for a year. He is a lot of things in this world. Among them, he is a husband, a son, a brother, a daddy to a new kitty who he adores, a musician, a gamer, an Operation Iraqi Freedom veteran, a bearer of the title United States Marine.

Each of these things is important, if only a partial list.

But to me, he is the best friend in the whole world. He is the keeper of my secrets, the sharer of my history. He is the ear I borrow when I have a tale to tell. He is my partner in crime and provider of near-death experiences. He is compassionate and reliable when I need him, and also tells me the hard truths when I need to hear those. He listens without judgment. He shares my eclectic taste in music and love for Ring Pop candy. He threatens to (quite possible does) background check my dates, just to be sure. He is the person I call when I am full of excitement. He is the person I call when I am pissed off and need to vent. He is the person I rode my first rollercoaster with.

He is not expendable, nor replaceable.

If it is not too much to ask, USMC, please return him in the condition he was lent...

It would make my heart hurt a whole lot less.

23 December 2009

Christmas

I love Christmas. I love being around family and friends. I love the songs, the smells, and getting cards in the mail. I love the sense of peace it brings me.

This Christmas is one that is spent with the bestie on the eve of deployment. Because of this, each memory is even more precious, even more cherished. It is excitement, tinged with a hint of uncertainty.

It is that hint of uncertainty that reminds me to remember.

After many years of war, there are many homes with an empty spot in their Christmas traditions.

At the bottom of my blog, there is a list of names. In some way, I have a connection to each of them.

So here's to Gunnar, Jessica, Jonathon, James, Chris, Joe, Aaron, Jonathan, and Will. Here's to each of their families. May you have peace this holiday season, your loved ones are not forgotten.

17 December 2009

Carl Sandburg


I AM singing to you
Soft as a man with a dead child speaks;
Hard as a man in handcuffs,
Held where he cannot move:

Under the sun
Are sixteen million men,
Chosen for shining teeth,
Sharp eyes, hard legs,
And a running of young warm blood in their wrists.

And a red juice runs on the green grass;
And a red juice soaks the dark soil.
And the sixteen million are killing. . . and killing
and killing.

I never forget them day or night:
They beat on my head for memory of them;
They pound on my heart and I cry back to them,
To their homes and women, dreams and games.

I wake in the night and smell the trenches,
And hear the low stir of sleepers in lines--
Sixteen million sleepers and pickets in the dark:
Some of them long sleepers for always,

Some of them tumbling to sleep to-morrow for always,
Fixed in the drag of the world's heartbreak,
Eating and drinking, toiling. . . on a long job of
killing.
Sixteen million men.

12 December 2009

Rays of Light

It is easy to get caught up in the tragedy of war. There is certainly enough to go around. Broken lives, broken bodies, broken minds, broken nations.

But war, at least war as we presently wage it, also presents an opportunity. It is an opportunity to help improve the lives of those citizens of the countries in which we fight. Our soldiers push their guns to the side and embrace humanitarian efforts with the same, if not more, spirit than they do for combat operations.

Recently, an Air Force unit put out a call for school supplies. They were rebuilding schools, but there were few, if any, supplies to fill them. The families of the Airmen were sending some, but they broadened the effort, and sent the word back in mass to the States. I bought supplies, my work and church donated supplies, six boxes in all. Each one filled with folders, scissors, chalk, markers, pencils and sharpeners, just about anything you can think of.

The thing I love about my country is that almost without fail, if people know about a need, and have a direct way to help, they will do so with enormous genorosity.

We sent them with love and well wishes to the Airmen who organized the effort.

The Airmen thanked us in return, and sent us pictures of themselves making supply packets to hand to the children. I looked up pictures of these types of humanitarian efforts in southern Iraq to create a picture of what happened to all those packets.

There is the hope that these types of humanitarian efforts will help. If that means they help stabilize a country, or they mean inspiring one child, maybe change one negative opinion about the American people, it remains to be seen. Maybe they will sow the seeds of peace.

In the midst of the darkness that is war, light can shine through.

These Airmen are those rays of light.








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09 December 2009

Precious

I found out yesterday that a Marine from my hometown was wounded in Afghanistan.

He went to the rival high school, graduating not long after I did.

I wish the wounds of war were like the wounds you see on tv. A cop is shot on duty, but its only a deep tissue wound, an FBI agent grazed in the head by a bullet. All wounds easily fixed by next weeks episode.

The thing about war is that nothing about it is easy.

This Marine faces at least two years of reconstructive surgeries and rehab. He has facial wounds that may be permanently disfiguring.

It is a reminder that each moment you have with loved ones in the armed forces is precious. You might not get another one, or the next one you get may be under vastly different circumstances than the last.

I am praying for him and wish him a speedy recovery.

I am praying for all the soldiers and Marines who are headed to Afghanistan in the coming months, and those who are deployed around the world now.

Hug your favorite Marine today, and if you don't have one, hug your favorite soldier, sailor, or airman instead.

01 December 2009

Holidays in Afghanistan

As the President prepares to announce his strategy in Afghanistan, and pundits on cable news argue about numbers and troop increases, it is important to remember the individuals that allow any strategy to be successful.

These individuals fighting in Afghanistan are fathers and mothers, brothers and sisters, sons and daughters, aunts and uncles, cousins, and best friends. They are American, British, Polish, Australian, and Canadian- among others. They have favorite movies and post-deployment vacation plans.

Those that will make up a troop "surge" will probably take pre-deployment leave soon. They will visit family and friends, or some exotic locale, and try to make as many memories as possible before they leave. Behind each one of those numbers on the tv screen is a person.

Many members of our military are far from home this holiday season. More soon will be. It is important that we remember them, as well as their families, who face an empty place at the table, and a picture in place of a loved one.

We must also remember the families of the fallen, whose empty seat during the holiday season is permanent.

Remember our troops. Pray for them. Give them the support they have earned.


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