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.

FOUR YEARS LATER |

February 06, 2007

FOUR YEARS LATER
Name: CAPT Lee Kelley
Posting date: 2/6/07
Returned from
: Iraq
Hometown: Salt Lake City, UT
Milblog url: wordsmithatwar.blog-city.com
Email: [email protected]

Four years later, here we still stand and fight, cycling back to America across the jet stream, across the ocean, to heal, to re-supply, and then we return to the desert. Four years and some of us have been here two or three times. We are doing a good job, but it's hard work. Four years and here we lie at night, under these particular constellations, thinking about home. How could we not?

Who is that woman sitting with her knees pulled to her chest in the window on the 30th floor of a hotel in New York City staring down at the lights and lost in her own dark thoughts, who, when she focuses her eyes one way can see the scene below her, but when she focuses another way can see her own reflection? What’s she thinking about?

And who is that young man in Salt Lake City driving way too fast and tapping his hands on the leather covered steering wheel as his music thumps, on his way to work for which he is late again, thinking about his girlfriend and perfectly content because it's payday?

Whose child might that be at the playground, going up the stairs and down the circular slide over and over, smiling at everyone so sweetly and only now gaining enough confidence to try and climb the big red curved ladder?

And who is that girl with the hazel eyes staring intently at a copy of the selected poems of Ralph Waldo Emerson? Isn’t she too young to be interested in Emerson? Is she in college? Where does she live? How came she to be in this library, sitting next to an artificial fireplace for warmth in her lovely beige sweater?

You there, you solitary figure, looking so stoic. I’m in the air outside the window, hovering over the place where the ocean batters the continent. I'm just a drifting thought on a solitary reconnaisance. You’re sitting in a lighthouse reading a book by candle. The glow from the flame lights up your bearded cheek. Why read with a candle when you have such a powerful light? Your beam sweeps the land, then casts out over the Atlantic ocean with a force that is almost natural, as if man did not place it there. It cannot reach the other side. You have no idea how symbolic you are right now, out here on the coast of Maine all alone.

I sense you all out there, though you may think not of me.

And I accept you for what you are, stranger or friend. I need you to be there because you make my home land what it is. You are all, friends and strangers alike, so sacred in my mind. For what is American life -- what is a wait in line at the post office or a drive to the store -- without a sea of human faces? Some faces are beautiful, others mean and hateful. Some are inspiring, while others are frightening. But their very presence is part of what makes America great. What are friends if there are no strangers? 

The idea of you all begets a powerful memory, a force of nature, an alternate reality, something I would never give up on, a caring voice on the end of a telephone line, a mystery, the smile of an old friend, a nice thought, a funny story, a well-meant gesture.

You dwell out there forming your own self-portrait of America -- the trucker driving 600 miles a day through the snowy mountains of Wyoming, the young boy at football practice in Maryland, the aspiring writer in New York, staring out at the city for inspiration, the jazz singer looking for part time work in the French Quarter, the grandfather in Arizona who swims two miles a day, the housewife in Pennsylvania who makes scrapbooks for her kids, the young man in Basic Training learning how to become a soldier, the hippie chicks at the University of Montana hanging out on the steps of the Liberal Arts building, the newborn baby in Minnesota lying in her crib and gazing wide-eyed at the shadows created by her nightlight, and all the nameless faces and moments that make up our history.

Just remember, America, it doesn't matter where they send us, or for how long. I can promise you we'll give it our best. We'll sacrifice all. And we will always support You. 

  "All wars are civil wars, because all men are brothers."  --Francois Fenelon

Comments

*silence*

Take care out there, Captain.

amen.

As I looked across the frozen Winter wonder of Korea's DMZ, as I wandered lost a little in the brownout of dust in Saudi Arabia, as I stared at the jungled hills surrounding me in the firebase in Vietnam; I, too, wondered if anyone would ever know that I had been there or anywhere and why me - well, I remembered where I came from and what I was going to go back 'Home' to, but I never said it as well as you have. Go with God.

All I can say is... WOW... followed by a heartfelt Thank You for who you are and what you do!

Be safe Captain!

This family in the Great Lakes State thanks you and asks that you please remember-we promise to always support you and believe in the mission you are all doing. God bless and keep you safe!

We know your are out there.
I am so grateful for all of you men and women "Standing Watch so I can sleep peacefully at night". Thank you and God Bless!!

Your strength, courage and devotion to our country is appreciated beyond words....Your words take my breath away and will not be forgotten by this American.
A heartfelt thanks and prayer for you and yours.

Your strength, courage and devotion to our country is appreciated beyond words....Your words take my breath away and will not be forgotten by this American.
A heartfelt thanks and prayer for you and yours.

This is a beautiful piece of writing. A portrait of words. Verification indeed that we are all related... all connected...one.

Right on, Capt. Kelley! That's the nicest thing I've ever read any milblogger say about "the civilians" back home....who don't understand. We're trying. We care. We can't be you. But are appreciative.

If I was my five-year-old grandson, I would be thanking God for my family in rainbow colors... for you all are our Family...

If I were in church, I'd stand up, raise both my hands up, and shout "Hallelujah, Praise God...Praise & protect our military everywhere, we're behind you 100%!"
Instead, I will hold you in my heart, ask God to be with you and tell you we are with you in spirit, always...

So beautiful and inspiring. We do think of you -- of all of you in the air and in the desert. Thank you. We love you. We want you home soon.

I just wanted to say a BIG Thank You to all of our military personel. We live in the greatest country on the face of the planet, thanks to all who serve or have served. Thanks to your sacrifice, we are able to live the way we do. We all look foward to the day our brothers and sisters all come home. Be safe.

great wordsmith

when we will get a post from those who order airstrikes on the Kurds
yesterday.
you know ,the Enemy?

i had to reread

so fluid and good

thanks again

Be assured some of us try to keep up with what you are doing. Thanks for informing us. P.S. Please exclude support for the Hippie Chicks of UM--at least until they start shaving their arm pits over there. You have some awesome mountains down there in your Utah.

Captain Kelly,

I can only hope that you feel the depth of my appreciation for your service. I thank God every day for people like you who are willing to watch over people like me.

Beautifully written. Deeply moving. Thank you.

Captain,

I had much the same thoughts in Special Forces base Camps a generation back. You and your comrads are constantly in our prayers.

God bless,
Old Soldier

Thank you for this message. It's sometimes easy to forget what it's all for. Please keep remembering us. I'll never forget you.

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