Wednesday, June 14, 2006
As this tour begins to draw to a close, what once seemed so intangible and far away may now become a reality. That day, that moment that will bring so many lonely hearts together in one place seems almost unimaginable. I have thought about that day in so many different ways it can be, at times, a source of maddening distraction.
Leave was such a whirlwind of activity it left few real moments to sit alone and consider that you were soon to be flying back in the same direction you left. Now the realization is that this last flight will be over and you won’t be going back to the places that caused so much pain and longing can be hard to fathom. I have watched my children grow in pictures and heard my daughter say her first words over a static filled satellite phone from eight thousand miles away. My son speaks in complete sentences now, always asking me how my soldiers are and if the there are any bad guys near. I wonder what I will tell him of this war when he grows older. What I can tell him about the things his Father has done to survive.
Will they understand? Will they be able to see the man who left a year ago is still here inside?
How will I react to those who are so blissfully ignorant to the war and all its obscenities of violence? Will I resent them for their apathy or will I understand that I am the one who’s changed and react accordingly? The nature of this conflict with its landmines and lightning attacks has kept most of us in a perpetual state of vigilance with explosive moments of adrenalin and despair. The Army gave me the Purple Heart award for injuries in battle but what do you get for wounds of the soul?
This being my second time deployed from a war zone may make it easier to adapt at surviving the home front. But I have no illusions that it will be easy. My wife has had to work and raise our children without a Dad for a year and a half and during those dark moments alone after the children have gone to sleep she wonders if I’m safe. How has this war changed her?
I know this; I will not allow this experience to shade the rest of my life with bitter angst. Being older this time I hope I have gained the wisdom to accept the path that has led me to the door I must now open and know I will be stronger for it. I have taken all the men under my command and returned them safely to their loved ones and I have prayed for the fallen.
God bless this rag-tag bunch of misfits I call my soldiers and God bless America the one true beacon of hope in this world.