Monday, May 31, 2004


Memorial Day. Day 386 of CPT Patti's deployment. One year, 20 days.

I watched the national Memorial Day Concert on TV this morning. It featured the National Symphony, the Chairmen of the Joint Chiefs. Some actors, some singers. And some amputees from the Global War on Terror.

It was moving. It was disturbing. It seemed as if we tried really hard on this Memorial Day to make it into a day of meaning.

By watching I learned the story of the milkshake man...a previous war (Vietnam?) amputee who volunteers on the amputee ward at Walter Reed. Milkshakes are apparently the superficial center of his ministry to those suffering the same fate as he has endured.

It was moving, but it was hard to watch. darling wife is not yet home safe. I was proud, watching this concert. And I wept. Sitting here alone in my apartment, I wept. Yes...I believe in what we are doing. And I am proud of my wife's service. But I wonder...when less than 250,000 soldiers out of 290,000,000 Americans has served in Iraq, just how invested in this is the average American? Where I have given the last 13 months of my marriage to this effort and many Americans haven't given it 13 minutes of serious reading or contemplation, I can't help ask myself why our investment when others are not willing, though they exploit the freedoms my investment ensures.

Later in my TV day (remember, we are six hours ahead of the east coast. Noon for us is 6:00 am in New York) I see Katie Couric interviewing the Milkshake Man. And I am annoyed. She puts the Milkshake man on the same hurried timeline that stupid show puts all their guests. Moreover, I wonder where has she and her stupid show been all this time. The Milkshake Man has been available...but couldn't be put on the show because they needed the time for stories about prison abuse.

I'm deeply annoyed that Katie Couric treats the Milkshake Man as the story du jour simply because today is Memorial Day. For those of us actually invested in America's defense, every day is a day to contemplate the gravity of the situation. We don't need some red-letter day on a calendar to remind us. In a time of war the vacant side of the bed every evening and morning reminds us.

I switched channels. Tuned to ABC. Diane Sawyer and Charles Gibson were interviewing the medical doctor who has been ABC's medical reporter for as long as I can recall. Apparantly he's just released a book. And in it apparantly he declares himself a follower of Christ. And now he's being given the Five-Minute-Interview - same as if he were a member of the Manson gang. He's being treated as if he is a novelty. And this really annoys me because he isn't a novelty...he is a citizen of the America I Live In. But this is the state of the media today. A well-to-do man follows his convictions about helping the downtrodden and giving to the poor and these two talking heads want to profile him as if this is something newsorthy.

Point is - being a Christian is still in the majority in The America I Live In. Check the statistics and you will find the less well-to-do give more to charity in this country than any other group. So where has ABC News been that this doctor is "novel"? Beats me. It's life as usual in the America I Live In.

Today has been an emotional day for me. I feel as if more of America should be holding my hand day in and day out. In reality it feels as if the fraction of the population who are actually invested in the Global War on Terror are all holding each others hands...and a large percentage are holding nothing but politically motivated signs indicating "Bush Lied" and "No Blood For Oil".

And in a weak moment I resent the right that those on the less-than-informed-side have to hold and wave the flag. I feel about that as I occasionally feel about my smile. My parents paid the money to put me in braces. Me? I've been all too willing to smile without thinking about the costs of that nearly perfect smile. Just taking advantage of it. Pretty arrogant, I'd imagine my folks would think as I attempt to rip into a ball of twine with my teeth.

So...all this I encounter today. And then I go read Mark Steyn's column. And I think this country could use a larger bit of investment. Because lack of investment, but enjoyment of the fruits results in some very lazy and ignorant citizens who have no idea of the actual costs.


Eric said...

Tim, I've been reading your comments for about a month now and I understand how it must feel to have your other half so far away. I'm married and I love my wife as much as I am sure you love yours.

Don't give up hope. We sometimes go through moments of weakness. That is how we are as humans, but we also show moments of strength as well. As a race we must endure times of despair for our future generation as well.

Thomas Paine once said, "If there must be trouble, let it be in my day, so that my children may have peace."

Tim, you are making a difference. As proof I'm here and I'm replying.

Anonymous said...

I lost an uncle who I never got to meet. He died in the Korean War and earned the Purple Heart. To this day, my father, who served in the Navy at the time refuses to talk about it. My uncle was a young man when he died. I cry knowing he never had a chance to be married, have children or grandchildren. What makes it all more painful was that my uncle and my father were orphaned as young boys, so I feel that life never gave him a chance. But he did have a chance to offer something few do--sacrifice their lives for this country.

I thank your wife for her service and your support of her. At least you have the magnificent opportunity to find each other, love each other, inspite of the danger of this war.

You are not alone. I think of this war every day and of our soldiers defending our country. I want to thank you for your insights and experiences.

Anonymous said...

I can really relate to what you're saying. I think my views vary with how safe I think my girl is that day. She had a really close call early in the weekend, so all the memorials really made me cry all weekend. I'm all for a free and democratic Iraq - up until it costs my girl her life. Selfish - absolutely.

I'll never take veterans for granted again after this year.

God Bless you and your wife.
Beth -

Holly said...

Dear Tim,

I missed the concert. I feel your pain! Some days I know the things we do makes a difference in a very critical way and some days I just wonder if anyone notices at all. Do they even care? Did anyone stop to think as they enjoyed thier weekend off what it cost to give it to them? How many tears have been shed? How many lonely nights and days of wonderning? How many times of answering children when they want thier father or mother? How many lives given for less than "desirable causes"?

And yet we know that the L-d sees. He is Jehovah-Raah the G-d who sees. He sees every time you and I, and everyone else who's family member is deployed somewhere in the world, are lonesome and afraid. I admit I don't always beleive that deep down as I should but I know that it is true.

I know that you are tired as am I, and sometimes it is easy to wonder if it's worth it. Have the last 15 years (in our case) been worth it?

Take heart my friend and know that Patti and my Tim, and all the other soldiers are making a difference however small it may seem. And that the L-d sees and remembers even if America doesnt.


Anonymous said...

Hi Tim!

This year, for the second year in a row, I spent my Memorial Day a little differently. I still did the family picnic...if I didn't they would have brought it to my house to "cheer me". Better at the in-laws than in my yard! However, we spent the morning at the Rocky Gap Veteran's Cemetery in Cumberland, Maryland (yes that Cumberland…the 372nd’s home). We gave our thanks to all those who we have taken for granted for so long. Until our son joined the service, we did not really spend Memorial Day as it was meant to be spent. We now have a new appreciation for our veterans and their families. Thank you for your service. And Thank You Capt. Patti and all her soldiers. And all soldiers, sailors, airmen and airwomen and marines. And while we are at it, all police officers and fire fighters. Without all these people, our lives would be very different. As one veteran attending the memorial put it, we could very well be speaking German or Japanese today. Have a great day! I’m looking forward to the day all our loved ones come home, safe and sound!

Cathy, Proud Army Mom