Tuesday, March 20, 2007

"Bottom of the barrel"

I read a lot of different milblogs and one I've followed for a while is American Soldier. I checked in today and read this post. I went to the CBS website to comment on Andy Rooney's story but comments were closed.

It's apalling to me the number of people who are carriers of the jackass gene. After reading comments on both sites, I chose to post this comment on American Soldier's blog. While my words are not nearly as poignant as some of the other commenters, the message is the same.

I’m going to take my turn on the soapbox.

My husband is prior active duty and currently serves in the National Guard. He served one tour in Iraq in ‘05 and we are anticipating, and preparing for, a second tour to begin sometime this summer.

He has a GED. I have two degrees. By no means does this make me better; quite the contrary. We are both successful in our jobs and are great complements to one another as well as those we interact with on a daily basis. In our day to day lives we are pretty much surrounded by people who are just like us. When he puts on his uniform and gathers with his fellow soldiers, they are a brotherhood united by a passion, their country. Their education levels vary from middle grades through PhD but they believe in themselves, each other and stand strong to unite and do as they are called upon to do. It’s their job.

I get chills every time I hear our national anthem and my heart swells with pride. I grieve with families who have lost their loved ones and I pray for those injured to heal and continue the great journey they have begun to follow. I have sent cards and care packages and prayed prayer upon prayer that God will continue to touch and enrich the lives of our soldiers, Marines, sailors, airmen and Guardsmen.

Before my husband served his tour in Iraq and I began following stories of service members and their families, I thought I had a valid opinion on the war. After listening to him and others, seeing pictures and meeting these fine people face to face, I realized that the only thing I had was my view from the cheap seats and, friends, you can’t see anything from there.

There is so much more than politics involved and I wish those who spew forth their ill informed opinions would actually take the time to look past what is being presented in newspapers and on television. I can show you the pictures of good. I can tell you stories that will make your heart melt. I can do it. I can do it because I have seen it first hand and lived it and I can do it because I believe in my husband and those who are united and volunteer with him. We were once a great nation and now we are a nation greatly divided. We, as Americans, are supposed to be proud of the land we call home and for the stones laid before us to get here. We are now mocked by others because of our inability to stand behind our leaders and it does not help the morale of our troops one iota. While I understand our innate craving for details and to be in the know, please understand it puts our troops who are working hard on their mission in danger. You don’t put a note on your front door as to where you hide your spare key and where your valuables are so don’t ask for details as to the placement of our troops.

Practicing freedom of speech is fine. Mudsling if you will. The old addage about the squeaky wheel gets the grease may be true but it sure irritates the hell out of the rest of us who trying to make a true difference in the lives of so many who have made a difference in ours. Step back and be respectful of those who volunteer. If you think you can do a better job, I’ve got the names and numbers of recruiters all over the country who would be glad to assist you in getting fitted for some desert boots. If say you support the troops but not the war, take this approach: Ben said it best when he wrote, “Soldiering is an honest calling. So is plumbing, farming, and bus driving, America needs them all and I have nothing against anyone who opts for one and not the other.” It’s so very true and it’s so many of these folks who are also serving our country at war. If your support is that great, contact a base or local reserve office and find out whose farm needs tending, whose company needs the phone answered and whose wife could use a hand with the yard. Use your energies for the good of others.

By the article’s definition, my husband is part of the “bottom of the barrel.” By the article’s definition I should hold myself higher than him. I’m proud to be a Guardsman’s wife. I’m proud to raise my child to be proud of the country we live in. My husband is my equal in our civilian life but when he dons his uniform, he is far more superior than I and I promise you, that of the two of us, he is the one you want in the field.

Thank you to everyone who has sent a package, letter, note, well wish and said a prayer. Thank you to everyone who has served and is serving. It is because of you we live as we do.

Sgt. L’s Wife

It never ceases to amaze me the number of people who like to critize, point fingers and lay blame but NEVER seem to follow through with a realistic solution or idea. No one will ever understand a soldier's view until you've walked in his or her boots. No one will never know the angst that comes with being a military spouse/family. Every group has their followers and supporters but I say this with all my heart and soul: There is no group is more supportive, loving and caring for one another than military families, immediate and extended. We are a band of brothers and sisters who are far and near. We share the same joys and tears for the person half way around the world as we do for those who live next door. We're all neighbors and we're all family. Of all the crap in the news about protestors using a fallen service member's funeral as a location to spread their "word," not once (and if I have missed it, I apologize) have I ever seen a military family waiting to pounce on the hearts and grave of one who opposes the war. We're not all perfect by any stretch of the imagination but what I have, as do my brothers and sisters, is tact, grace and the ability to love and honor those who have given me the chances I have and, coincidentally, it's the same chance you have. Funny how that works, isn't it?

I fly my flag proud. I laugh out loud. I hug hard. I listen intently. I pray with every fiber of my being. My Blue Star flag was retired when Sgt. came home but it is waiting to hang in our window again. There is simply so much hate in our society and if only a teensy tinsy portion of the energy was put into something good rather than trying to be the loudest and most obnoxious, so many things would be so different. If my husband, BG's daddy, in-law's son is what is considered the bottom of the barrel, then I have been blessed beyond my wildest dreams truly by the Grace of God. Apparently the bottom of the barrel means I have the love of a man whose heart has room in it for me and my short comings. A man who isn't afraid to stand up for what he believes in. A man who has signed his 2nd re-enlistment since 9/11, one of which was this past August. A man who works hard to make sure all around him are taken care of. I love him and I'm proud of him.

Now, I offically step off my soapbox.