May 08, 2008
Name: Mike T.
Posting date: 5/7/08
Stationed in: Afghanistan
Milblog url: c/o bouhammer.com
I can remember the faint sound as the door to my house closed behind me. One foot in front of the other I walked down the sidewalk to the truck and felt what seems to be forever ago the breeze upon my face. No sooner did that door close than I was boarding a flight to the unknown, to a combat zone.
Words can only partially describe the feelings that raced through my veins to my heart, to my soul. Everything that I have known and loved was left behind that door, and since then there is an emptiness that can only be filled by going back to it as I left it, even though there will be subtle changes. In my heart I know that can never be. War changes you. I believe it was the famous war correspondent Joe Galloway who said it best: “Those who have seen war will always see it long after it is over." (sic)
If you are to fall on the battlefield you will always be remembered by those whose lives you touched, but it is your family that will forever carry the burden. They are left with the memories of your laughter, smile, and delicate voice that will always echo inside them. They are the unsung heroes of war that often go unnoticed and even forgotten. I have come to terms with the fact that there is a chance that something could go wrong and I may not return, but it is the faces of my loved ones that haunt me. To imagine being without them can rattle the heart and soul of the strongest soldier.
It is not the amount of money or material wealth possessed that dictates the worth of a man’s life, it is his family. Without family there is no point to why we are here. I do not miss such things as going to the mall, driving my car, or even the ability to go food shopping; it is them that I miss. They are the driving force for me to stay alive and to keep those around me the same. We are born by family and we will die by family. It has taken me many years to realize this, but more so than ever I need them now. It is their emails and packages; it is the hand-drawn pictures and words of encouragement. This is what drives me to continue.
A lifetime has passed since I have been able to hug them and tell them that I love them in person. How do we return and explain all that we have said and done here? All of us struggle with what we do to accomplish our missions, but if we do not, then our comrades might pay the price. Regardless if you are facing the enemy or stationed on the Forward Operating Bases, everyone struggles. Distance and time are the true enemies of the soldier.
For those who serve in Afghanistan, better known to some as "The Forgotten War”, we struggle with what we are doing here. Iraq is always served to the public as the true struggle, but for us it is here and now. It is hard to tell our loved ones how things are here, and I am not sure we even know. There is no one in the media, or even most of our key leaders, who praise our accomplishments. But the families of this war are displaced even more so.
I dedicate this to my family, to those who keep the watch while I am gone. This is for the endless pen marks on the calendar, for the Christmas presents that are still wrapped, for the tears left on the phone long after I have hung up, for the empty email boxes, for those who keep going on and look forward to the next sunrise, one step closer to me coming home. You are my heroes. This is for you, my love, who has shown me that this world has so much to offer. Thank you for believing in me during the darkest times. I love you.
“And if I stare too long I might not see you right, so close the door where the heart is out of sight.”