[Disclaimer: I am not looking to start a political debate. I just wanted to vent. Questions and comments are welcome…if kept respectful.]
"I volunteered to go to Iraq as a First Sergeant and I have been selected. How do you feel about that?"
I knew the reasons why she went; she didn't have to say anything to me about that. No one in the family asked why. No one acted selfish about the fact she was leaving for such a long period of time--even though we all knew we'd miss her terribly. We just supported her. Not because we are all republicans or democrats, pro or anti-war, rich or poor. Just because we know her and her good heart. We know her soul's need to be a part of something bigger than her body. We are familiar with her selflessness and innate humanitarian qualities. Since she left, though, A LOT of acquaintances and peers have asked me the same question…"Why would she voluntarily go to Iraq?" Other comments (to be fair, they are out of context) include "That's not a place for a lady." "I don't think I could be part of something I don't support." "I couldn't fight in a war I don't believe in."
I wasn't offended by these questions or comments, per se, but rather confused about the insensitivity and bewilderment on the topic. Yes…we have been at war for longer than expected. And yes…maybe rebuilding things in Iraq is taking a while. But our troops still need support. On 9/11 the nation united because they were sad and angry about the terrorist attacks. Iraq is still harboring terrorists. Now, just a few short years later, I see more segregation and hate (in the U.S.) than ever before. It's okay if you don't believe in war, and it's okay if you think we should get the hell out of there…but thank God that we have people willing to do the inevitable jobs involved with the war. Don't pick on them, their beliefs, and their families. People like my mother still need to know that their duties are not going unrecognized and are not in vain.
My mom's job description in the Air Force as First Sergeant includes a lot of complicated tasks. She's not on the front lines, but she is physically and mentally prepared to go there if need-be. Her job entails supporting the soldiers (of all branches) in their daily duties. She sort of serves as her own Human Resources department for AF Reserve. She is an expert communicator and uses that skill to help her in her job. If one of her men gets hurt, she meets him at the hospital and consoles the family. If someone needs their orders cut for a family emergency, she helps get the job done. She's a strong lady--the strongest I have ever known--and anything good in me is because she raised me.
Yesterday during Obama's inauguration speech, he spoke about the troops. So in response to any of those questions above, I suppose this sums it up:
"As we consider the road that unfolds before us, we remember with humble gratitude those brave Americans who, at this very hour, patrol far-off deserts and distant mountains. They have something to tell us today, just as the fallen heroes who lie in Arlington whisper through the ages. We honor them not only because they are guardians of our liberty, but because they embody the spirit of service; a willingness to find meaning in something greater than themselves. And yet, at this moment - a moment that will define a generation - it is precisely this spirit that must inhabit us all. "