Thursday, August 14, 2003

Five minutes hardly seemed like enough time to get past the pleasantries and the awe of seeing their partner seated before them.

“I don’t know what to say,” Verena Klein said as she wiped away a tear during a video teleconferencing hookup between Hanau and Baghdad, Iraq.

“Me neither,” Spc. Jacob Baker said to his girlfriend. “Let me just look at you for a second.”

“I can’t believe you are so far away,” Klein said several silent seconds later.

Technology can be a wonderful thing, especially recent developments in the video realm that allow people at different locations to see and hear each other via a live camera. During the war, commanders used the technology to plot strategy. Now they are employing the same gizmo to give couples another way to stay connected and boost morale.

Some spouses say these video visits can be awkward, given the sometimes sterile and shaky feed. But they also said the chance to see their favorite soldier in living color is just too precious to pass up.

I had a five-minute Video-Teleconference (VTC) with CPT Patti on Monday. I didn't mention it here because after it was all done...well, I wasn't sure what to say.

I hope you've read the whole article. The article gives one the sense that while it is wonderful to see your loved-one's face, it does leave you somewhat hollow.

I think the idea that being able to see her but not being able to hold her is inherently unsatisfactory.

Plus, there is a delay of perhaps 6 to 8 seconds between the time one finishes speaking and hears the other begin to reply. So it is choppy and frustrating. Not an efficient means of communications for sure.

And five-minutes - hardly time to say a decent hello, much less any conversation and certainly not enough time to adequately say good-bye again.

But the thing that can't be replaced is her face looking back.

That much is priceless.

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