The Sandbox

GWOT hot wash, straight from the wire

Welcome to The Sandbox, a forum for service members who have served or are currently serving in Iraq and Afghanistan, returned vets, spouses and caregivers. The Sandbox's focus is not on policy and partisanship (go to our Blowback page for that), but on the unclassified details of deployment -- the everyday, the extraordinary, the wonderful, the messed-up, the absurd. All correspondence is read, and as much as possible is posted, lightly edited. If you know someone who is deployed who might have something to say, please tell them about us. To submit a post click here.

WHAT IT'S ALL ABOUT |

December 04, 2006

WHAT IT'S ALL ABOUT
Name: Tadpole
Posting date: 12/4/06
Stationed in: Afghanistan
Milblog url: armysailor.com

At the end of the movie The Green Berets, John Wayne tells a little Vietnamese boy "You're what this is all about..." He was absolutely right. I cannot speak to the motivation for much of what we do at the political level, but I can sayFramed_tadpole_kids_girl_pink_final_5 that for those of us out here, boots-on-ground, every day, the women and children of this country are what it's all about. Each day that I see families living in the conditions that they are forced to endure over here, I am thankful that my own family is safe and secure back at home. Afghanistan has given me one great gift, which seems most appropriate for this time of year: It has made me very thankful for all that I have. When I rotate back to the world, life will have a far richer flavor.

Although I do sometimes feel resentful at my being over here, because of my separation from those I love, I have to admit that the resentment fades away when I look at these children. I feel for them. By what luck was I fortunate enough to be born in the U.S, or any first-world country for that matter? That alone is reason to give thanks.

Comments

Most of us take for granted what we have. Thank you for the reality check.

Your message is the same I get from all of the Soldiers, Marines and Airmen that I support in Afghanistan. Thank you for sharing this with us. My wish to you for continued safety. There is NO doubt in my mind that your work and sacrifice IS making a difference. Maybe we don't see it today but history will render a stamp of approval I think.

All you have ever done will be for a better future, if you are lucky and not too self centered. The future is always best seen in the children of tomorrow. Too bad John Wayne was looking at the Sun setting in the West when he couldn't do that in Vietnam, that whole war would have turned out differently if that scene had been shot right. The words work.

First world lifestyle seems contingent on somewhere else on earth having Third world status.

Amen, Tadpole. Be safe, Be well.

The embers glowed softly, and in their dim light,
I gazed round the room and I cherished the sight.
My wife was asleep, her head on my chest,
My daughter beside me, angelic in rest.
Outside the snow fell, a blanket of white,
Transforming the yard to a winter delight.
The sparkling lights in the tree I believe,
Completed the magic that was Christmas Eve.
My eyelids were heavy, my breathing was deep,
Secure and surrounded by love I would sleep.
In perfect contentment, or so it would seem,
So I slumbered, perhaps I started to dream.

The sound wasn't loud, and it wasn't too near,
But I opened my eyes when it tickled my ear.
Perhaps just a cough, I didn't quite know,
Then the sound of footsteps outside in the snow.
My soul gave a tremble, I struggled to hear,
And I crept to the door just to see who was near.
Standing out in the cold and the dark of the night,
A lone figure stood, his face weary and tight.

A soldier, I puzzled, some twenty years old,
Perhaps a Marine, huddled here in the cold.
Alone in the dark, he looked up and smiled,
Standing watch over me, and my wife and my child.
"What are you doing?" I asked without fear,
"Come in this moment, it's freezing out here!
Put down your pack, brush the snow from your sleeve,
You should be at home on a cold Christmas Eve!"

For barely a moment I saw his eyes shift,
Away from the cold and the snow blown in drifts..
To the window that danced with a warm fire's light
Then he sighed and he said "It's really all right,
I'm out here by choice. I'm here every night."
"It's my duty to stand at the front of the line,
That separates you from the darkest of times.
No one had to ask or beg or implore me,
I'm proud to stand here like my fathers before me.
My Gramps died at 'Pearl on a day in December,"
Then he sighed, "That's a Christmas 'Gram always remembers."
My dad stood his wat ch in the jungles of 'Nam',
And now it is my turn and so, here I am.
I've not seen my own son in more than a while,
But my wife sends me pictures, he's sure got her smile.

Then he bent and he carefully pulled from his bag,
The red, white, and blue... an American flag.
"I can live through the cold and the being alone,
Away from my family, my house and my home.
I can stand at my post through the rain and the sleet,
I can sleep in a foxhole with little to eat.
I can carry the weight of killing another,
Or lay down my life with my sister and brother..
Who stand at the front against any and all,
To ensure for all time that this flag will not fall."

"So go back inside," he said, "harbor no fright,
Your family is waiting and I'll be all right."
"But isn't there something I can do, at the least,
"Give you money," I asked, "or prepare you a feast?
It seems all too little for all that you've done,
For being away from your wife and your son."
Then his eye welled a tear that held no regret,
"Just tell us you love us, and never forget.
To fight for our rights back at home while we're gone,
To stand your own watch, no matter how long.
For when we come home, either standing or dead,
To know you remember we fought and we bled.
Is payment enough, and with that we will trust,
That we mattered to you as you mattered to us."

reading what you said made me rethink my values and be more thankful for what i have. and thank you also for the work you are doing over there

Christmas is the time of love and thanksgiving. You reminded me of how we should be thankful of our family and loved ones in this season. When we look around us, there is always something we can be thankful for.

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