Weighing in

[Note that this post is most assuredly not motivated by or in response to anything that has been written by the lovely people who read this site. This is just my thoughts about things that I've seen.]

Tuesday night. I have a very bad feeling that I'm going to regret this post later, but I just don't feel that I can stay quiet any longer.

Today in Iraq, the United States military lost its 2000th service member since fighting began. I think it important to make the distinction between "soldier" - which is sort of a catch-all used in the media - and "service member" because there are airmen, sailors, and Marines serving in Iraq (and around the world), too. In any case, I feel that I may have something to add to this discussion because I am blessed to have a very special sailor in my life and, through knowing him, I have met and come to know many other sailors and Marines.

To a one, they are all ready to go to Iraq or Afghanistan or Korea or Somalia or the former Czech Republic or wherever they're needed. The fear that I had when I heard that TCB was to be deployed to Iraq? That was my fear. TCB was matter-of-fact and resolute. He wanted (and still does want) to be there for his "guys" and faced the thought of being away from home for an undefined period of time with absolute, unflappable calm. He's a sailor and that's what he does.

The young (early 20s) wife of TCB's bike commuting buddy, Sean - pregnant with two little girls under age 5 already - facing her husband's upcoming deployment to Iraq in March? "I knew what I was in for when I signed on," she told me on Sunday. No talk of fear, no remorse, no anger, just support for her husband and those he serves with.

The good-looking, single, early 20s Marine from Detroit, Michigan who lives down the street from TCB and comes over to the "block parties" on the weekends, and who will be deploying with Sean (above) in March? "It's part of the job," he tells me, as he details the preparations he will make before leaving his home and everything he loves, perhaps forever. I ask if he's scared and he tells me that anyone who says they aren't scared is lying but he says that courage isn't the absence of fear, it's doing what needs to be done even when you're scared. "When I signed up, I knew that I would be asked to go overseas to fight and possibly die - that's what Marines do." (I wrote it down so that I wouldn't forget.)

The boy who couldn't have been more than 20 and needed a ride from TCB and I on the day his unit was leaving for an eight month deployment (first to Louisiana for three weeks, then straight on to Iraq)? He was leaving his newborn daughter and wife (she looked like she was in high school, seriously) and, while he cried softly in the front seat, he talked to TCB about checking in on his family while he was gone and taking care of things around the condo for her, if possible. TCB assured him that he needn't worry about it. I noticed that he carried rosary beads with him (his kit was in the back of TCB's Jeep), so I asked if he'd brought his Bible to read on the long flight over and he told me that he had. I gave him the pack of gum I'd just picked up, for the flight, and asked, very quietly, if he was scared. (I know, stupid question, but it was a 30 minute drive and I couldn't just sit in silence.) "Yes, ma'am, I'm scared s***less, but this is my job. This is what we do." (I didn't have to write this down. Even though they were only a whisper, his words are seared on my brain.)

I'm not sure what my point in writing this is, other than to give voice to a group that I rarely seem to see in the media: actual members of our armed forces. They're proud of what they do, of what the emblems on their uniforms stand for, of the 200 year long tradition of courage under fire that they represent, and they're ready to make the ultimate sacrifice if that's what their destiny holds. They mourn fallen comrades, too, but they do it quietly, out of the public eye and without any political agenda.

It's their job, it's what they do.

I've turned comments off for this post because I'm not trying to start a flame war, I'm not making a political statement, and I won't argue with anyone about their beliefs on the topic. This is just me, finally, letting something out that I've been thinking and not writing for far too long.

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