Do any of you watch the television show Coming Home? You know, it’s a show that has a similar premise to Extreme Makeover: Home Edition. This dude brings you to tears in the first 30 seconds of the episode by showing you clips of servicemen and women surprising their loved ones by coming home early and other similar types of situations. Sometimes, however, he presents to us a story about the ultimate sacrifice for our country – a story about a soldier who returns home with an American flag draped over his or her body.
I have to admit, I have watched the show only once. It is not necessarily because I do not like the show, though I wish the production team would piece it together in a different way, but, instead, I cannot even get through the commercials plugging the show without my hair standing up and my eyes starting to well up with tears. You’re probably thinking, “Man, this chick cries a lot!” You may be right, but I challenge anybody to sit down to watch this show and not feel one ounce of emotion for these families.
I am an American. I am proud to be an American; despite joking around about my ultimate dream of becoming a citizen of Israel in order to be a member of Mossad. That dream will likely only be achieved in my actual dreams. However, from a very early age I remember getting excited and proud when I saw soldiers. I had an innate understanding of what these men and women were doing for my friends and I that no one person ever had to explain to me. I just knew.
If somebody told me 10 years ago that I would be in love with one of those servicemen I probably would have laughed it off. When I think about seeing Nick in his uniform it makes me feel a ton of emotions from the tip of my head to the tip of my toes. Mostly the emotions are concentrated around my heart and in the form of tears streaming down my cheeks [yeah, yeah, she’s crying again. I hear you!]. Being in love with a soldier has many different and equally difficult implications.
While the implications are endless, there are important things we must understand. These men and women are serving our country and at any moment, when our country needs them, they have to go. While mobilization is not that fast, it is that easy. When they receive orders, stamped with the seal of our Executive Office, there is no turning off the alarm and rolling over in bed. Instead, their boots hit the ground, their patches go on and they walk away into the great unknown. The only certainty they have in their lives, and ours, is they are defending this great country and honoring their commitment to do so.
I was lucky to watch Nick go off to Iraq and come home without any injuries; emphasis on lucky. While these men and women have hours and weeks, months and years of training for entering an active combat zone, a lot can go wrong in a very short time and no amount of training may be able to stop it. For instance, on one of the episodes of Coming Home [yes, I attempted to watch it for a second time] a Marine pilot told the story of honoring one of his fallen comrades whose life was taken suddenly and abruptly; a man he never met but only spoke to over a radio. The show tends to talk to both sides: the family members affected and the soldier.
I am not writing about this show because I want people to watch it; I am writing about it because one of the fallen soldiers’ friends said something that could bring anybody to tears, and obviously brought me to a blubbering mess. He simply had this to say about one of his dearest friends, “America lost a son; an honorable son, an honorable brother, an honorable friend and an ally for God, our country and family. He carried all of that on his back.” What a powerful statement!! This is a statement that can be used to describe so many of our soldiers protecting this country.
When I think about Nick being a soldier, I smile wide with pride. I don’t always let him see that or know how proud I am of him. I don’t know if all soldiers are like this, but he has a slight macho complex. He thinks he is a big-bad-military machine sometimes and goes on these dorky rants about having a warrior gene. I usually roll my eyes and laugh at him. While I do not think HE has a warrior gene, I think being in an active combat zone becomes addicting and a thrill. It bothers me that people glorify it in movies and make us believe that the story always ends with a happy ending. It does not. War is serious and it scares me. Secretly I am glad he is home to stay indefinitely, but he loves this country and will do anything to defend it… even if that means going back into an active war zone.
I know a lot of people out there who may follow my blog or come across it are connected to a soldier; they have watched their son or daughter deploy; they have cried into the chest of their loved one as they dropped them off at the airport; or who have squeezed them so tight because they did not know when the next hug would come. That is why I am writing this entry. I know what it feels like. It will get better. While there are a ton of negative things attached to deployments, remember why these men and women are doing it. Our soldiers have dedicated their lives and time to protecting and defending this country against all enemies both foreign and domestic. You have to support them; love them; listen to them; honor them; help them; and encourage them, but don’t let it all go to their heads, either!
The next time you see a person in uniform, I challenge you to thank them for what they are doing for us. Living in this town, I see innocent children who are unafraid and not embarrassed to do just that when they see a member of our armed forces in the grocery store. Hearing a child yelling Thank You for Serving in the middle of a crowded store will make anybody smile and proud, but not many adults will do the same thing. Do it! I challenge you!
Until Next Time,