Wednesday, September 27, 2006

So long, USA.....

Just a few more hours stateside....then I will be flying out. The suck Factor at MOB Center Shelby is not so bad anymore. :-) Funny how that works....suck is all relative I suppose. I am going to try and leave a voice post on here before I leave. Take care USA!

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Block Leave.......

"Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”


The above passage is a quote from Marianne Williamson who is an acclaimed lecturer and author. The passage is particularly poignant to me in regard to how I am feeling about the next mission. I went home on Block Leave for 10 days, and it was absolutely wonderful...The longer I stayed, the more I wanted to stay...inevitably the tenth day came, and I went through a myriad of emotions. More than anything I can say that the feeling was guilt...not only about leaving my family, but for looking forward to mission challenges. While I was at home, all of my family and friends were telling me about how proud they were of me for what I was about to do, and about the sacrifice I was going to make. While it does feel good to hear those assurances, it made me think about who exactly was making the sacrifice.

Not one person came up to my wife to tell her how proud they were of her for all that she was sacrificing over the next year, or how brave she was to shoulder the task of raising three children by herself for a year. Nobody told my kids that they were brave for adjusting to life without their father for the next year.

I do admit that I am doing the job that I envisioned myself doing when I was a child. I am doing the same thing that my father did before me. The source of pride in all of my accomplishments to date is based upon what I have done, as well as what I and my family have done over these years. But, for the first time in my military career I am questioning myself....not about the validity of the mission, or the moxie that I will need to show over the next few months, but the inexorable desire to be with my wife, my kids, my parents, my sisters.....

This will pass...as other major things in my life...one way or another. But, I keep thinking about whether or not the toll that my career takes on my family is ultimately worth it. Do I do what I do for a paycheck, for God and country, for my my ego, or what? All I know for sure at this moment is that I cherish every moment that I was able to spend with my loved ones....when all of this is over, I am going to do my best to make sure that I never take them for granted again.

Monday, September 11, 2006

REPOST FROM 2 YEARS AGO.
I feel the same way now as I did then....

Two years and counting...
Today is September 11th, 2003. Most of us realize that this is the second anniversary of those horrific attacks that killed approximately 3,000 American citizens in New York, D.C., and Pennsylvania. Since that time, American Forces have swept across the Middle East, toppling tyrannical regimes and attempting to bring peace and order to the region. "The War on Terror". That seems to be the catch phrase that everyone uses to describe what many believe is protection against radical islamic extremists. However, we are not winning the war, not on terror at least. Yes, we did beat the Taliban, we crushed Saddam's best troops, and we have begun to round up lunatic after lunatic. However, we are still terrified. So much so that we question the sincerity of our government's efforts. We are terrified about money, terrified about how thin our Army is being stretched. We fear that today there could be an attack by Al-Qaeda that could commemorate the attacks on September 11th. We are terrified of "them", of "each other", and of the "unknown". People have likened George W. Bush, Donald Rumsfeld, and John Ashcroft to Hitler (Personally I think this comparison of 3,000 Americans dying to 6 MILLION Jews dying is an insult to their memory). We worry about the Patriot Act, we eye Homeland Security warily and wonder if "Big Brother" is watching.
Through all of this terror, we have forgotten one thing. This is the United States of America....the revolution never stops. If we don't like what our government is doing, we have the gumption, the gall, and the "right" to question it. We think we can spread Western ideals throughout the rest of the world. Such radical concepts as equality, freedom, and justice. I know....you have to be thinking. "Get off the soapbox and put the apple pie down." But I mean it.
I do wonder about Weapons of Mass Destruction...where are they? I do wonder about Osama Bin Laden. Where is he? I do wonder about our Armed Forces. How many more will have to die? I do wonder about what the war effort is costing us. 87 billion more? I do wonder how long we will have to be in Iraq and Afghanistan. How much longer? But, I have promised myself that I will no longer live in terror. That completely negates the aims of the terrorist. Much more so than simply occupying territory.
Many people ask if there is a connection between all of the things that we are involved in. Palestine, Iraq, Israel, Afghanistan, Al-quaeda, Ansar al Islam, the Peshmerga, The Fedeyenne, Hamas, the PLO. I answer yes....yes there is a connection. The fact remains that the most violent and volatile place in the world is the Middle East. Until there is peace there, there will be no peace elsewhere.
When I think of terror, I think of the people jumping from the top floors of the World Trade Center in an attempt to escape the flames, the heat, and the smoke.

That is terror...terror in its truest form. However, the terror that most Americans now feel...save those that have family overseas....is the terror of our past, and our uncertainty about our futures. But, I do know that terror is alive and well. There are some places where September 11th is just another day, no different than any of the rest, simply because violence, death, and terror are commonplace.

I would hope that we will continue to remain strong in our resolve to be "above" the violent gestures of the radicals of the world. I would also hope that while we seek to protect ourselves and others from their twisted sense of justice, that we would also seek to not only have compassion for their souls, but to find what can be done to motivate change for peace.
Lastly, I just want everyone to do their part to fight terrorism. That is simply to no longer be terrified. If we can do that, then we will already have achieved victory. Have a great day everyone.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

ARTEP.....

We are in the process of completing our ARTEP at Camp Shelby. This is the last thing that we have do to do before we are validated for our deployment to Iraq. I will be home on block leave for 10 days to see my wife and kids very soon. I can't wait until Wednesday. But, one thing that bothers me is the fact that I will have to say goodbye to them....again. I was only 19 during my last combat tour, and I had no wife, no kids, and no worries....besides my own that is.

I look back on my military career, and I am content with what I have done over the course of my life, but I am cognizant of the stresses that this lifestyle has put on my wife, my kids, my marriage, and my family. Tomorrow will be five years to the day that all of this God-awful mess started. No matter what the cause for what put on this road, the point remains that there is no end in sight. I look at my OCS class, and we have people in almost every corner of the world.

Oh well, why dwell on the dark and dreary. This time on Thursday I will be at home with my sons, my daughter and my wife. My oldest son will be a Freshman in high school when I return. My middle son will be in fourth grade. And my daughter will be in Kindergarten. I will miss some things, but with modern technology I can talk to them almost every single day. But, nothing replaces being there......