Thursday, November 19, 2009

Too Much

Ashlee and I went to the Post Office today to mail Christopher his final package (mostly for the phone charger - because in about 2 weeks he will be calling me to say he is coming home!!!!!!!!!!). We happened to arrive at the same time many soldiers were mailing stuff to their new home in Iraq. I know it was Iraq, because the guy behind me in line was talking about their imminent departure. I started to cry a little bit right there in line, soldiers in front of me, soldiers behind me. There is a lot I don't know about the soldiers in line today, but some of the things that I do know are: They were most likely from a National Guard unit, so they are leaving jobs, maybe taking a significant pay cut while they serve, and their families won't have the same access to support that active duty families have. It's very likely that they are headed to at least a second tour in a war zone. They were upbeat, probably glad to be done with training here and moving on to the mission. And I know that I don't think of them often enough, and am not thankful enough for them. So, I shed a few tears and hoped no-one noticed. I really wanted to tell them I was thankful for them, to be careful, to come home safely, but I was too big a coward.

We are at the end of a long six months in our family, six months of separation and worry. This is Christopher's 4th deployment in support of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan - and the total time he has spent away from us in direct support of the war effort has been about 14 months. That is about one month shy of one average Army deployment. And, he is much less likely to be wounded/injured than Soldiers and Marines. My guess is that most active duty Army/Marine personnel have completed at least 2 deployments (but more likely 3 ) of 12 - 18 months, and the average American citizen doesn't really notice or think much about it. The military community carries much of the United States foreign policy on their backs, the Army and Marines have shouldered the biggest part of the weight in the "War on Terror" and the invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan. Less than 1% of our citizenship serves in it's Armed Forces (including National Guard and Reserve members), all volunteers. Every single one voluntarily signed over many of their Constitutional rights - including freedom of speech and their right to live in order to protect and defend the Constitutional rights of the other 99% of our country. (Taken from While They're At War) What the history books say about this particular time is unknown - but right now, to me - waiting in line with soldiers at the Post Office, thinking about where they are coming from and where they are going and how long they will be there - it feels like a heavy burden that a very, very small percentage of the population carries, and it feels like too much.


MiriamR said...

I really enjoyed this post Allison. It made me sad. I think about them all the time. Well I think mostly about their wives and families and what a huge sacrifice they make for everyone else and they don't really get much back in return. I watched a show on Post traumatic (I don't know what its called right now) about how when they come back from combat they change because of the psychological pressure of it all. It breaks my heart. It has happened after every war (I was recently reading some experiences post WWII) and its always sad to hear. There was a guy in New Mexico two weeks ago who was on leave and he had the post traumatic thing and he killed a guy from road rage. Its so sad because they guy most likely wouldn't have done that if he hadn't experienced those things out there. So much sacrifice.

sharron said...

My Dear Sweethearts, I appreciate your comments and it made me sad as well. Whenever I see our military, I feel deeply moved and usually say something to them teary eyed. Your insight and quote is information we all should know and share with each other. How can we show our gratitude for the freedoms we have at such a high price? I Love You, Mom xo