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March 29, 2009

Thought for the Day

In the New Testament, Paul admonishes us to “pray without ceasing.” I never understood that verse until I had a son deployed to a combat zone. Now I find myself praying for my son, his men, and their families almost constantly. Our Marine son is at a Forward Operating Base in Afghanistan. They have no running water, no heat, and only on occasion, electricity. The other evening I received a short email from him. His battalion lost three more men over the weekend. It was difficult for me to sleep that night, knowing somewhere in this nation mothers and fathers, wives, and children were mourning the death of a loved one.

Obviously, my interest in what used to be called the “Global War on Terror” and now is apparently just an “Overseas Contingency Operation” is more than a historical fancy. I’ve tried to read as much as I can about the decision to launch the war, our efforts on all fronts, and our successes and failures to date. I’ve read the good, the bad, and the ugly.

... Depending upon the author, I can find hope or discouragement. What I have found are heroes.

... I met a Marine who lost the use of his legs and is confined to a wheelchair for the rest of his life. He can maneuver pretty well, but he will never chase his children around the yard or at the beach the way you and I can. I met a Marine blinded by an RPG who will never see his children again. He can hear them and he can hold them but will never see them the way we see our children. I know a serviceman who was “present” for the birth of his child. He was deployed to a combat zone and listened over the phone as his wife give birth. I’ve spent time with children who pray every night for their daddy to come home safely. I’ve met the spouses of those deployed and watched them cope with not only managing a family but living with the constant worry the next phone call will bring tragic news.

What is so remarkable is not one Marine, not one serviceman, not one spouse I met asked for your pity or even your thanks. No one claimed victim status. All are volunteers and all believe they are part of a team who answered the call. They are proud and they are strong. Maybe, they too, have found comfort in the words of Moses. They are all my heroes.

Before you go to sleep tonight take a few moments to thank God for your spouse, your children, your home, a comfortable bed, and the servicemen and women who allow you to sleep under the blanket of freedom. I fear too many have forgotten or have never learned the real price of freedom.

Read it all.

Posted by Cassandra at March 29, 2009 02:28 PM

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Comments

I stood a flag line with a bunch of Patriot Guard Riders yesterday as we consecrated a patch of cemetery in a corner of the facility. Unbeknownst to us we had a special visitor; the widow of a slain police officer killed in the line of duty chasing a run-of-the-mill miscreant some few months ago.

She laid a wreath on hallowed ground that was set aside for heroes protecting the rest of us. Her two young children sat quietly under the tent silently wondering where their daddy was and who were all these people standing in the sun holding flags.

Not a day goes by that I don't ask the Good Lord to watch over us. In my infinite ignorance I do not understand his plan but I do feel better knowing I can talk to HIM while standing in the sun, holding the Stars and Stripes, looking up at the colors and the blue sky. It never amazes me when a passing breeze materializes on a calm day lifting the flags up at PRECISELY the right time to emphasize an act or word uttered.

Your son and his buddies at some unknown FOB are in safe hands!

Posted by: vet66 at March 29, 2009 06:52 PM

In the hollow of His hand and protected by the shadow of His wing...yes, He who watches us slumbers not nor sleeps.

Posted by: Cricket at March 29, 2009 07:33 PM

Semper Fi. No better friend and no worse enemy.

Take comfort in the words of Psalm 91. My Team Sgt used to recite parts of it (4,5,6, and 7) before every trip outside the wire....

1 He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.

2 I will say of the LORD, He is my refuge and my fortress: my God; in him will I trust.

3 Surely he shall deliver thee from the snare of the fowler, and from the noisome pestilence.

4 He shall cover thee with his feathers, and under his wings shalt thou trust: his truth shall be thy shield and buckler.

5 Thou shalt not be afraid for the terror by night; nor for the arrow that flieth by day;

6 Nor for the pestilence that walketh in darkness; nor for the destruction that wasteth at noonday.

7 A thousand shall fall at thy side, and ten thousand at thy right hand; but it shall not come nigh thee.

8 Only with thine eyes shalt thou behold and see the reward of the wicked.

9 Because thou hast made the LORD, which is my refuge, even the most High, thy habitation;

10 There shall no evil befall thee, neither shall any plague come nigh thy dwelling.

11 For he shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways.

12 They shall bear thee up in their hands, lest thou dash thy foot against a stone.

13 Thou shalt tread upon the lion and adder: the young lion and the dragon shalt thou trample under feet.

14 Because he hath set his love upon me, therefore will I deliver him: I will set him on high, because he hath known my name.

15 He shall call upon me, and I will answer him: I will be with him in trouble; I will deliver him, and honour him.

16 With long life will I satisfy him, and shew him my salvation.

These are more than words....take comfort in them and know that while we may wear different suits, we are all one team. We watch out for each other, knowing that it is being done for us as well.

Posted by: Kbob in Katy at March 29, 2009 08:36 PM

"Before you go to sleep tonight take a few moments to thank God for your spouse, your children, your home, a comfortable bed, and the servicemen and women who allow you to sleep under the blanket of freedom. I fear too many have forgotten or have never learned the real price of freedom."

As a matter of fact, the alarm on my watch goes off at 9 PM daily to remind me to say my prayers...which always end in giving thanks. For everything...

Posted by: camojack at March 30, 2009 03:48 AM

Having once been a taciturn, work-alcoholic who asked for nor expected much from anyone in a previous life, the fates conspired to serve me a heaping helping of humble pie.

Now with eyes opened and the gentle guidance of Walkin' Boss to show me a new way to go through my days, I can see reasons to be thankful in each moment.

High on that list are the people who selflessly place their all on the line, along with their families who share in the sacrifice. These souls pay the freight for those of us who can't and even for those of us who won't. A priceless gift indeed.

If that is not reason enough to be thankful, I can not imagine what would be.

Posted by: bthun at March 30, 2009 07:40 AM

Its Monday morn, and I just could not let this go....

What kind of MORON to we have as SecDef????

http://www.foxnews.com/politics/first100days/2009/03/29/gates-prepared-respond-north-korea-missile-launch/

We are not prepared? Or at least he doesn't THINK we are??? If teh ONE can fire the head of GM, why not SecDef???

GRRRRRRRRR!!!!!

Posted by: kbob in Katy at March 30, 2009 07:58 AM

Thank you for posting this Cass. I want to be very careful how I word this, as I mean no disrespect or insult to the original author. But it bothers me that for most folks, the following is not evident until one of THEIR loved ones are in the line of fire:

"What is so remarkable is not one Marine, not one serviceman, not one spouse I met asked for your pity or even your thanks. No one claimed victim status. All are volunteers and all believe they are part of a team who answered the call. They are proud and they are strong."

I expect people to continue to go to the mall and ignore the fact that brave men and women sacrifice for them daily. I expect it because fewer than 1% of the population of this country have served in the Armed Forces. I expect it because it's human nature to ignore unpleasant facts that make us feel inadequate or smaller for our failures in living up to what someone else does. I expect it without contempt, because of the very fact of it being human nature.

What I don't expect is the pity or victimization that most folks project onto our troops. I don't expect the casual contempt of folks like Stephen King, or thoughtless Congressmembers who infantalize our troops ("our children are dying in Iraq", "we're sending boys and girls to their deaths", blah blah blah). But little seems to clear this up quite as quickly or well as having a family member serve overseas. The original author said it him/herself:
"I never understood that verse until I had a son deployed to a combat zone."

Again, I mean no disrespect, I am glad that you now have a clearer view of the situation. I just am lamenting that it took this personal event to bring it home that our men and women in uniform (NOT children, NOT "boys and girls") actually know what they're doing when they volunteer, and they ask neither pity nor thanks, but instead ask only that we let them do their jobs so they don't have to come back and do it again, or even worse, leave the problem so THEIR children have to come back to finish the job.

Posted by: MikeD at March 30, 2009 09:43 AM

I think most people have a tough time empathizing until an experience becomes personal to them in some way. Until that happens, the experience is always more about "us" than the person we're trying to understand.

Hence we get reporters who know nothing about the military projecting their feelings and values upon us. It's amazing how far embedding with an actual command goes towards modifying that mind set :p

Posted by: Cassandra at March 30, 2009 10:03 AM

Unbeknownst to us we had a special visitor; the widow of a slain police officer killed in the line of duty chasing a run-of-the-mill miscreant some few months ago.

I'll never forget attending Police Week here in DC a few years ago.

It was one of the most moving experiences of my life. But it also brought home to me how lucky we are to be protected by that thin blue line.

This is something we tend to take for granted. Even me, with a son who is a police officer and a family member slain in the line of duty just a few years ago. How easily we forget, who should not.

Posted by: Cassandra at March 30, 2009 10:05 AM

Not being a shrink or playing one on TV, I still can't help but think that,

"I expect it because it's human nature to ignore unpleasant facts that make us feel inadequate or smaller for our failures in living up to what someone else does."
nails the reason for so many to either ignore or act out with displays of disrespect towards the people who make up our military and the thin blue line. Frothing and self-loathing in denial...

Hey, wasn't that the title of a Hunter S. Thompson tale?

Posted by: bthun at March 30, 2009 10:18 AM

"I think most people have a tough time empathizing until an experience becomes personal to them in some way. Until that happens, the experience is always more about 'us'" than the person we're trying to understand."

Sometimes, it takes it takes a different degree of *personal* for people to understand. As a wildland firefighter in my previous (unmarried) life, I had many *opportunities* to man a staging area -- basically, a firefighting unit sitting around their gear-loaded vehicles in full Nomex just waiting for a fire to happen "there". I once spent 6 weeks fighting fire in Idaho's Snake River Canyon, two of which were staging area duty on a remote river bank five miles from the main fire.
"Why are you here?" People would ask.
We would tell them, "We're here to make sure that if that fire over there sends sparks this way, there's someone here to put them out before they can spread."
"Ohhhhhh......but, that fire's more than five miles away. Why aren't you over there fighting to put it out?"
Apparently, even when someone -- be it firefighter, policeman, soldier or Marine -- is standing there telling them they are there to make sure nothing happens to their things, their life, liberty or happiness, some just don't get it. And, sadly, it appears, either through lack of education or deliberate ignorance, their numbers are growing everyday.

Posted by: DL Sly at March 30, 2009 11:41 AM

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