Originally Posted Here: http://colorinschool.livejournal.com/3403.html

  • Apr. 29th, 2008 at 12:19 AM

Have you ever had a moment where you felt outside of yourself in some regards, as though, for a fraction of a second nothing at all mattered and everything made sense? And after that glimpse the world goes back to normal? I kind of had one of those tonight. I have a friend in Iraq. This is his second tour of duty in Iraq, his third in the war. (His first was in Afghanistan.) He shipped out back in February and I’ve not had a chance to talk to him since. Today I remembered that he has a MySpace page (and by default remembered that -I- have a MySpace page) and went over to check it. He’s made a few blog entries since he’s been there and he seems to be doing okay, or as okay as one can in a war zone. But I suppose, as my thoughts lingered on the end of the semester and the last projects I have to finish, and as everything was a kind of jumble of information, I had one of those moments I mentioned and this was the thought that went through my head:

It does not matter what you politically believe. It does not matter if you think the war is a hoax or a sham or a really bad deal. It does not matter which politician wins the election. It does not matter what grades appear on your transcript. What does matter are the people you hold dear. What does matter is that a friend I love dearly is in a war zone and there’s not a damn thing I can do to make that different; I cannot wish him home.

And from those thoughts, others came…

What matters is that my friend has two small children who deserve to know the amazing man their father is. What matters is that there are thousands of other people like my friend who are in war zones every day fighting for something and what matters is that we remember them. Long after the politicians have quit arguing, long after the cameras have gone home, there will be people who remain in those war zones who will still be fighting for something. And while it’s so easy to say “this is a bad war” (and is there really such a thing as a good war?), it is also important to say “but I stand behind my troops.” Why? Because they are doing something that most of us could never dream of doing and they are doing it willingly, because they believe in something and understand that there are people who are soldiers and people who are not. They understand that war is not pretty, it is not easy, it is not understandable in a fifteen second video clip on the nightly news sandwiched between this murder and that crime, or worse, shoved to the end of the broadcast all together.

People don’t want to hear the number of soldiers who have died; I know I shudder every time I do. Yet even as I have that moment of pain for the ones lost, I also take a moment to have a thought and a prayer for those who remain. War is not pretty. War is not easy. War is not a game that can be turned on or off with a click of your computer mouse, your remote. Long into the night when you are tucked safe in your bed, the war goes on. Long into the night when your children are well cared for, there are soldiers fighting to help other children, children you’ve never heard of, whose names you cannot pronounce. Far removed from the war zones it is easy to tune it out, to pretend that it is, in some way, someone else’s problem…and maybe it is.

And I’m not saying that we should all inundate ourselves with the things our soldiers are facing day-in and day-out because I know how damaging that could be. I’m not saying we all should rush to the nearest recruiting office and go join up, whether we believe in the cause or not. What I am saying is that we need to remember that war is not fought by characters on a screen but instead by real people – people like my friend – and maybe once in awhile we need to say a special prayer, light a special candle, or offer a special whisper of thanks for the ones who -can- be soldiers, who -can- fight the fight, and who -can- carry on.

It almost seems ironic that in my American Studies class we never really discussed the war in Iraq; yet it makes sense. It is a subject that is so filled with emotions: vehemence and apathy and rage and hate and fear and insecurity and uncertainty and a thousand others besides. It is a subject that many shy away from wondering what can be done. I know I don’t have the answer to that; I don’t even propose to have the answer to that.

No, what I have the answer for is simple: whether you know someone there or not, the next time you hear about the war, take a moment to say a quiet “thank you,” to say a quiet prayer, to do whatever it is that you would do to honor someone, to wish someone well, to wish someone safely home again. Take a moment to quietly praise their bravery, their courage, their strength. Take a moment and hug your loved one’s closer. Take a moment and let all of the politics and the vitriol and the negativity go and for a moment remember that we are all here on this planet together as humans and that every life is precious and that somewhere a soldier (no, not just a soldier) – that SOMEONE is doing something that you or I might not be able to do.

Take that moment to not be a Democrat or a Republican or a Christian or a Muslim or a Hindu or a Feminist or an Atheist or a Mother or a Father or a Daughter or a Son or a Brother or a Sister and instead simply be a human in the human race and celebrate the other humans who are alive as well. After that moment, feel free to pick up all of your labels, all of your titles, all of your politics, your religions, your fears, your hopes, your dreams and carry on living, carry on doing what you do.

This became a lot more existential and meandering than I aimed for it to, but for once I just kind of let the words go where they wanted. I’m definitely not looking to start a political argument with this entry; there are plenty of places where a person can do that. Instead, I just started to put words to paper without some lofty goal in mind, without having to frame it for this professor or that class, without having any real expectation of it even being read – writing to ease the soul and gratify the spirit. It’s been awhile since I just sat and wrote. I should get in the habit of doing that more. 🙂

To my heart-friend who occasionally faces off with prairie dogs, remember that you’re never far from home when you’re in our hearts; remember that we love you and support you and miss you and pray for you and hope for you and wait for the days that we’ll see you home again. Thank you…