web counter Media Lies: What's it like to serve?

Sunday, January 30, 2005

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What's it like to serve?

Tbone writes about the life of a US military person. It's not all glamour, a lot of it is really tough. Yet every one of these people has made a decision to serve fully aware of the life they are choosing. They echo our forebears in ways that many of us are only vaguely aware of and some of us are completely ignorant of. They put their lives on the line daily and ask nothing in return.

But the hardest part of all is being away from their families.
I also miss my wife terribly. I bring a small photo album with my favorite pictures. When I feel bad, I find a private corner somewhere and look at photos of my wife and kids. I read and re-read her letters when I get them (mail is very slow to get overseas). I call her when I can, but it isn't very often. Sometimes looking at her photos only makes me feel worse because I know I am looking at someone I can't touch for a long time. I miss the company and the intimacy. I am not alone, but I sure feel lonely sometimes.

I also miss the comforts of home. Sometimes I sleep on a fold out cot. Sometimes I sleep in a tent. Sometimes I go without a shower for days or weeks at a time. Sometimes I go without ice cubes or cold drinks. Sometimes I go without hot food, instead eating Meals Ready to Eat (MRE) out of a plastic bag. Sometimes I work 18 hours a day for months without a day off. Sometimes I go to a memorial service for a fallen comrade. One day blends into the next until you feel like a machine or a zombie.

Mix all the above with a dose of diarrhea from eating local food, a pinch of stress because your wife just wrote that your son is failing the 9th grade, and a whole load of anxiety because mortars are going off around you and you have a recipe for a soldiers life. It is a difficult and unglamorous life. I am trying not to whine too loudly...hope I don't sound too ungrateful for all the good things I experienced along the way.

So please, the next time you see a serviceman, thank him (and her) not only for the job he does but also for the hardship he endures in the process. Having written this down, I feel a little better. Thanks for listening. Talk to you all later.
Yes, please remember the American serviceman and woman and do something special for them today. And remember, when you go to bed at night, many men and women are enduring great hardship on your behalf because they chose to. They deserve our respect. They deserve our admiration. And they deserve the best this country has to give when we need to take care of them.

Tbone, whereever you are, our prayers are with you and our family. And thanks!