Monday, January 05, 2009

Back To Reality

I have to be honest- I did not read the paper or watch the news while I was away. In the airport, CNN was reporting on the mess in Israel.

At the same time, as we waited in Atlanta for our flight to Savannah, there were many soldiers walking about, obviously going back to work after a break. One in particular caught our eyes.

He was young, only 18, and looked scared. I'm sure he wouldn't like that description of himself but he did. Walter couldn't stand it and went and struck up a conversation with him. He had just finished basic training and was going back to base after a short break.

He was from a small town in Florida and the army was the only way out. The army recruiters did a number on him and he took it, hook line and sinker. He did not think he would see any combat and if he didn't like his deployment, he could transfer.

Well, we thought, you could ASK. Doesn't mean you could change.

In the meantime, Israel's ground forces were moving forward. Rocket attacks were being reported on the television just over our shoulders. It broke my heart, this young man's belief he could pick and choose.

Would he be alive in a year, I wondered.

I have three sons. People have always said to me that boys are easier than girls. Sure, they're rough when they are young but then they tend to mellow and you never worry about them getting pregnant.

No, you worry about them being drafted.

I don't believe this country can enter one more conflict without having a draft. Our military is stretched to it's limits. Young, poor kids will continue to sign up as a means to get out of hopeless situations but not in the droves needed.

Not even Obama will be able to fix that. Bodies are needed. Period.

Six years, he said. The last two are cake, just on the reserves. I wondered if he had any idea how many reservists are on their third and fourth tour in Iraq.

Catching up on the news has been hard. The Rick Warren debacle is nothing compared to this nightmare brewing, again, in the Middle East. My hope for the end of war is gone.

And my fear for my boys renewed again.

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Blogger Ms. Moon said...

You're right. You're right, you're right, you're right.
I talked to a little boy one night who told me he wanted to grow up to be a Marine. I told him he should probably think about being a marine biologist instead.
A friend of mine, who raised her boys in the most pacifistic way imaginable had to face the reality that one of them CHOSE to be a soldier.
And they both survived his tour of Iraq.
But God, it was hard.
Isn't it time to beat our swords into plowshares yet? Isn't it?

11:15 AM  
Blogger Rev. Bob said...

Let me put on my Paul Krugman hat. The Bush wars have depleted the military to the point where we need to work hard and long to get to zero. We've outsourced whole areas of expertise and capability. Can a logistics expert even be found in our military any more?

The bad news is that we'll be stretched thin. The good news is that there's no way to send our kids off to die at the rate the Bush Republicans have been sending them. The better news is that idiotic programs like missile defense, one for one nuclear upgrades, and Advanced Combat Systems are goners. I worked on the architecture team for ACS and I have never seen a more worthless product line. Well, except for GMD, which I also worked on briefly before I put my foot down.

We could see the US make a transformative change in the way we treat alliances and armed violence.

12:00 PM  
Blogger Suzy said...

Don't get me started with the freakin military in small towns. Every parent should check with their local school district to make sure they are not administering the ASVAB test that is suppose to be a career assesment in disguise. I have one of those dumb ass boys that thinks the military isn't such a bad idea just the coast guard mom. I think not!!! They have already started to romance him and he is only in 9th grade. I so hope they don't reinstate the draft Canada will end up with alot of new citizens.

10:36 PM  
Blogger Rose said...

Well said. Just last nigth, I asked my son(33)if he ever wished he had gone into the military and without hesitation he blurted out "NO".
I do not know how parents who have children in the war zones handle it.

1:05 AM  
Blogger Me said...

I am currently deployed to Afghanistan. I just came from a ramp ceremony. It’s where they carry a casket to the plane to send home. His name is Brian. He was 42; from Ottawa. He has a wife and 2 daughters; one who shares my name.

Attendance is not required but it is something I feel everyone should do at least once. Just like I think the news should show flag-draped caskets arriving home. The men and women dying here are not just statistics. They’re people with families and they need to be honored and their sacrifice needs to be known by the general population. A population that’s busy trampling each other to get to the sale items at Wal-Mart. Priorities seem misplaced from here.

It was cold and very windy out on the flight line. It was difficult standing at attention. You had to brace yourself against a wind that was trying to blow you over and you couldn’t wipe the snot running from your nose or rub your eyes that were stinging from the wind and dust. But whatever the weather (and it does go to both extremes here), I’ll be out there. Because I don’t want to forget those fathers, mothers, sons and sisters. Because the next time, it could be me.

Next week I’ll travel home for the first time in 6.5 months. After 2 weeks I’ll return for another 6 months. Whatever your feelings on the war, I encourage you to attend a ramp ceremony for a returning soldier, airman, marine or sailor if you happen to live near a base. This war will not end if people at home are permitted to forget that it is still happening; that people are still dying.

And don’t tell my mother I said it could be me next time! As far as she knows there is nothing dangerous here, I never leave the safety of the base and the Taliban never fire rockets into our camp!

9:34 AM  

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