On Friday, I was flying home from Atlanta and happened to be seated next to two Servicemen (both were long time members of the Army Reserve). The one guy had been to Afghanistan 4 times! The other guy was in the original Iraq War, then after he fulfilled his obligation, he left the Army and went to work in a factory. He hated working in the factory, it was a stupid job with little room for personal development, so he decided to rejoin the Army.
These two guys were flying home from a two week training exercise they had in Georgia. They were friendly, funny, and they told a couple stories about places they’ve been. No crazy stories about war, just funny stories, ironic stories, like a time when he was getting off a helicopter in Afghanistan and he was running into his base, another soldier was running from the base into the helicopter and they recognized each other, they were in the same boot camp 12 years ago in the Southern United States. They shook hands, yelled hello, and kept running in opposite directions. He thought it was funny that he hadn’t seen the guy for 12 years and then he runs into him in a desert thousands of miles from home.
When I think about being a Serviceman in a time of war, it seems horribly scary. I guess that’s why I am against this war, I just know I would hate to fight in it myself. These guys saw it as a job, a responsibility, a day in the life. They really impressed me and they made me think, “This is what these guys do, this is what they are best at, and this is what they actually want to be doing.” Is it what I want to do? Hell no. But with elections fast approaching, I’m hearing everyone’s opinion on what to do about this war and I’d be most interesting in hearing the opinion of our Servicemen. I didn’t ask, I didn’t want to offend anyone, but I am truly interesting in knowing what they think. Are we making progress? Are we helping more people than we’re pissing off? I could care less if we are winning or losing, I just want to know if we’re helping anything.
When the plane landed, they made an announcement that we were traveling with some Servicemen and everyone cheered and clapped. These guys have a tough job and sometimes, their alternatives suck even more (the job at the factory), and it’s nice to see them get a little recognition, but I worry that it’s not nearly enough. After meeting these guys, I just hope that our next president makes it a priority to provide our veterans with opportunities for higher education, job training, and the support they need to live a quality life in this country. It’s the least we could offer since most of us would be scared as hell to walk a mile in their shoes.
On a similar note, there will be a walk/run to honor a CB East graduate, Colby Umbrell who died on May 3rd 2007 in Iraq. The event takes place on May 3rd, 2008 at Central Park in Doylestown; you can either run the 5k or walk a mile. Registration starts at 7AM next Saturday, the event starts closer to 8:30AM. I played football with the guy, he was a couple years younger, but he was a good guy with a great heart and it would be wonderful if everyone could show up to honor him and his family. Jaclyn, Winston and I will be attending the walk.
Here’s a website with more details: