It was a big week for us as we welcomed my oldest daughter’s boyfriend home from an eight-month deployment in Afghanistan. Ironic that it coincidentally is Veterans Day.
I was born in 1965, so I am somewhat detached from the concept of war and the military; my Grandpa served in World War II and I know that he was incredibly proud of that fact. I remember stories about the kamikaze planes attacking the ships but honestly that was the extent of my first hand knowledge.
Before we met Tom (that’s my daughter’s boyfriend) I did not know anyone who served in any sort of capacity.
Honestly, I also took for granted the extreme blessedness of our lives and our safety and our security. It all just seemed “a given.”
Through this young man, we have gotten a little glimpse into the life of someone in the army. These guys work hard! When stationed in the US, he works 12 hours day for literally pennies. And when deployed, well imagine living in a square mile for eight months, in 120-degree weather, and sleeping in a plywood 6 x 6 room.
I know, I know – he signed up for this. Contrary to what some think, it is not because he wanted to carry around a gun and be some sort of tough guy. He wanted the education. He does technical work, not infantry. Even doing that, he got through his deployment by telling himself that he was “protecting Alex” (that’s my daughter).
I thought of him a lot while he was on deployment – one time in particular was the Fourth of July. We spent the holiday “celebrating our freedom” on our beautiful boat in what has to be one of most beautiful places in the world to spend the holiday – Roche Harbor.
At the same time, Tom was in his barracks – working the night shift, 12 hours on, 12 hours off.
It inspired me to write this poem. I am not a poet, so be lenient.
The red, white and blue flags gently flap in the wind. She wakes up early to say hello.
He says goodnight in his 6 x 6 plywood home, 105 degrees here today, the only windows the photos from home taped to the walls.
Cool breeze, salt water in the air, and footsteps on the dock. I took a pass on the 5k fun run this year but I am going to watch the donut-eating contest in a bit.
Mandatory PT, laps around the jet way, I tell myself “I am here to protect you.” Thank you for the Oreo cookies in the care package from home.
Red, white and blue Converse tennis shoes.
Army issued M4, part of the uniform.
Sparkles of light to symbolize our freedom.
I’m getting used to sleeping through the terrorist mortaring at night.
He stays awake long enough to say goodnight. The red, white and blue flags gently flap in the wind.
I hope on this Veteran’s Day, we all take a moment to genuinely appreciate the extreme blessedness of our lives. Our current President almost makes it feel like the most important thing to American’s is preserving our way of life so capitalism can survive; aka people can make even more money.
I really, really hope that is not true. I hope that you see these men and women serve, well to do what Tom did, to protect the ones they love.