February 21, 2003

Where do I stand?

There are people outside of my little city* that are protesting. They are protesting the war, the president, the price of gas and, in general, anything they don't think is going their way. They are waving signs and pointing fingers at the soldiers and family members that are coming and going from my little city. I read signs that say "Stop the war!" and "No war for oil!" and even a few that are accusatory in tone, making it sound like the very people driving though the gates have any damn say in what is going on in the world. I honk and glare at them whenever I see them.

I understand their frustrations, truly I do. I am frustrated myself. I don't happen to agree with what is going on. I read the news and sigh. I watch the news and sigh some more. (I then turn off the damn TV and close the CNN.com window) I listen to wives cry about their husbands going away to far-away or, even worse, unknown places.

Drive down the freeway from my little city about two miles. There, most weekends, you will find the overpass filled with people. People wearing red, white, and blue. People waving flags. Older men, who are veterans of various wars. They wave their flags and signs and wave at any car that has a little city sticker on the windsheild. Not one sign says "hooray for war!" or "Go war-mongers!" No...they say things like "We love you!" and "We support our troops no matter what!" and "Stay Safe!" I honk and wave back whenever I see them.

I had someone say to me that my husband must be excited about the prospect of going to war. Yes, read that again and let it soak in. "...excited about the prospect of going to war!" He said it with a smile on his face. I'm sure the look of horror on my own face spoke volumes. I asked him what he meant. It was his opinion that since my husband is in the Army, he MUST be FOR the war and in total agreement with everything that is going on and just ITCHING to get over there and "kick some ass". I was speechless. I just looked at the person with disgust and walked away. At the time, I had no canned response. Nothing prepared in my head to such an assinine comment. I have one now...

No, my husband is NOT itching to go to war. He is, however, prepared. Physically and mentally, he is prepared to go and do as ordered. That is part of the tradeoff for the shitty hours and even shittier pay. That he go and do what he is told, when he is told. He isn't in the Army for the money. He isn't in the Army because he wants to work over 12 hours a day. He is in the Army because he felt (and still feels) a sense of duty to this country. He is in the Army because he believes that this is where he should be, right now in his life. In 1982 he raised his right hand and said: "I DO SOLEMNLY SWEAR THAT I WILL SUPPORT AND DEFEND THE CONSTITUTION OF THE UNITED STATES AGAINST ALL ENEMIES, FOREIGN AND DOMESTIC; THAT I WILL BEAR TRUE FAITH AND ALLEGIANCE TO THE SAME; AND THAT I WILL OBEY THE ORDERS OF THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES AND THE ORDERS OF THE OFFICERS APPOINTED OVER ME, ACCORDING TO REGULATIONS AND THE UNIFORM CODE OF MILITARY JUSTICE. SO HELP ME GOD." I don't see in there anywhere where it says "if I feel like it".

This country elected the president that is, it seems, about to send a few hundred thousand troops into some kind of military action. War, if you will. Some of those troops are happy to go, ready and willing to "kick some ass" and almost excited about the whole thing. Others are more quiet, just simply stating that they will go and do as ordered and just want to get home safely to their families. I wish it wasn't happening. I wish my husband had a nice desk job and wasn't in line to go anywhere except the grocery store.

To the people standing outside my little city, waving signs and telling me and my family that we are war mongers...fuck you. It isn't MY husband (or anyone on this base) making those decisions. I don't have an inside line to the pentagon or the white house to tell them they are doing right or wrong. You are waving signs at young wives who are suddenly single mothers, scared and alone and, usually, far from home and family. Do you think your signs and accusations are helping aleviate her fears?

You may not understand why my husband is in the military. Not everyone feels the same sense of duty. Others find different ways to help this country. You many not understand it but you should at least respect him for it. For putting his life on the line, even if you don't agree with the reasons. For staying with his job and being committed to it for over twenty years now, you should at least respect that.

I don't have to agree with WHY he is going to be sent somewhere. I just know that eventually, the odds are more than likely that he'll go. I know that I'll have to say goodbye to him and calm our child down. She's old enough to understand the world around her. She's old enough to understand that Daddy is going away for a while and could be in danger. She's old enough to understand that it means something could happen to him. I have to be strong enough to aleviate those fears in her as well as running the household on my own. Women do it all the time. I know I'll be OK. I know she'll be OK. I even know that he'll be OK, since I don't want to grow old with anyone else.

Where will I stand? I'll stand by his side for as long as I can and then I'll kiss him goodbye, tell him I love him and then...I'll stand there alone, waiting for him to come home.

* - an old friend of mine once referred to living on base as "like living in your own little city!" so I always call it that now. Yes, I'm really talking about living on an Army base.

Posted by rowEn at 11:01 AM | Comments (22)