Monday, February 13, 2012

Around Her Hair She Wore a Yellow Ribbon. . .

"I support the troops"  How many times have you heard this?  It's great all well and good to "support" the troops, but do you actually know any troops?   Do you, oh reader, have an emotional connection with said Troops?  Do you still tie a yellow ribbon around the trees in your lawn?  Do you send troops care packages?   

One of my favorite cadences in the Army was an old Cav cadence, that the Army as a whole adopted.  it goes like this:

Of course the band Rally Point did a bit of a more interesting version

 If that doesn't jerk a tear or two you're a heartless bastard.

In the last ten years our society has been flooded with images of sacrifice and victory.  Triumph and tragedy.  Hope and despair.  All having to do with the military, their deployment and the War (singular) we are fighting. There are many to whom these images resonate.  None more so than those that marry into the military, or date a soldier. 

One of the most endearing image that we have from this (or really any war) is the goodbye, or the welcome home.  The image of the loving wife, the children or the parents all crowded around a soldier hugging him or her so fiercely that you wonder if they are being choked. These images are powerful in their simplicity.  You don't even really see the soldier's face most of the time, but the look on their family members is utterly priceless.  The relief felt by those left behind, when their soldier returns home often makes those that have never seen it first hand stop and really look.

Likewise pictures of single (looking) women crying over the graves of their husbands, or hugging the flag draped coffin, even the pets laying, obviously missing the human they loved.  Videos of children asking "When is Daddy coming home?" and the painful look on the face of a mother that needs to explain that, no, Daddy isn't coming home.  These are Images of war that are as enduring as they are tear jerking.

As a Soldier, I rarely had anyone waiting for me.  Yes my parents, but on both deployments I returned to an Empty Room in the Barracks.  I will tell you, to have survived a deployment, and return to almost literally nothing. . . that is one of the most desolate feelings in the world.  I do not know the pain of those left behind.  For me, facing the danger, which was in front of me, and yes, at times terrifying, was far easier.  The pain I expected to feel if I were injured, and what I might feel if I died, were known to me.  I knew the likely ways that I would die.  Not in a John Wayne movie sort of way where I clutch my gut and fall down, but in a far more graphic, and in many ways intimate way.

I knew what could, and in my mind probably would, happen to me.  But the Wives, Girlfriends and children old enough to understand never would.  They wouldn't know those dangers first hand.  They would only know what they see in the News, and the "war porn" that some people (especially for some reason the Anti-War folks) revile in.  The worst images of combat would be lade bare before them.  Gone were the days where one might be able to believe that one did clutch his gut and simply fall to the ground.  Now the Wives and Girlfriends are confronted with the worst possible realities that their loved one might face.  I am not excluding males.  There have been husbands left behind to, Females have died as well, and those males too must confront the image of a once beautiful (I assume) wife killed in a very gruesome fashion.

It is to those we leave behind, that live with an anxiety I could not understand, that we should also raise a toast to.  Loving someone, whose job it is, to possibly die, can not be easy.  In many ways these people are the mistress, and they must watch their significant other who is "married" to the military, but that marriage, the notional marriage, above their very real one.  It can not be easy.  It explains why there are so many marriages that break up in the Army.

To all the Wives.  To all the Girlfriends, Husbands, and Boyfriends we soldiers left behind, You have my thanks.  You have kept the home-fires burning, and given us a vision of that most celestial of places, Home.  Your sacrifice, is just as real as ours, and though you may never get a medal for such, you are most certainly deserving.  You're love and affections allow us to rest (when we can) knowing that all is right with at least one part of the world. 

Thank you for everything you do.  Charlie Mike!


Lometa said...

I can answer yes to all of your questions and would add my deepest sense of gratitude for your service, sir.

I am soaking in your last words like a soldier soaks in his family picture he keeps in his pocket. I have them written on my heart. My father was lucky and survived the war. He's in his 80's now and a mile a day at three miles per hour, has a garden to envy and visits other soldiers who are in their declining years. It is truly a privileged to be in their presence.

I wrote this several years ago about the Yellow Ribbon. Perhaps it may give some insights from a military brat (USAF- SAM,SAC,TAC) to readers who come by:

Much appreciated.

KG2V said...

I currently only know 2 people in, and one of those is second hand (son in law of a friend I haven't seen in a few years, but whom I talk to on the phone all the time, so I have not gotten to meet the man yet) Care packages? Yep. A couple of friends can pull out their coins from GWI, or SEA (One has one from Adm Borda)