July 07, 2004


There's an article in the Stars and Stripes today humorously called Morale in Iraq ranges from low to gung-ho. The article seems to capture what I imagine is a true sense of morale in Iraq.

In many places, the emotional and physical rebuilding of Iraq is well under way and troops feel appreciated. But almost daily, far from the ribbon-cuttings and candy giveaways, an improvised bomb or missile kills another American servicemember.

I had an email exchange recently with Randy, a deployed Guardsman. He apologized for sounding frustrated, but I said his complaints sounded valid to me. Maybe it's because I hear my husband make many of the same observations, so the problems must be real. I know that Randy and I have "common ground" -- he respects the Army, he doesn't shirk his duty -- so I appreciate hearing his valid criticisms. It doesn't sound any different than the stuff I hear from my husband; I just don't post it because that's his business. I admit my blog might make it sound like everything is peaches and candy for my family, but staying optimistic is the way I cope with the deployment. It's a way of dealing with the fact that my husband is still sleeping outside, doesn't get enough food, and is only getting four hours of sleep each night. If I dwelled on how bad that sucks, I'd worry myself sick. Instead I try to focus on the Big Picture aspect of the deployment and remind myself that my husband's suffering (and my breaking heart) have to be worth a democratic Iraq.

General Kimmitt went on to make an astute observation:

But he added that having good morale and being happy aren’t the same things.

“Do we have a right to be happy? No,” Kimmitt said. “It gets real hot around here. There are people shooting at you.

“In my case, there are people who will give $15 million if somebody cuts off my head and gives it to them. Does that make me happy? No. Do I have high morale? Yes.

“They [soldiers] are 19 years old,” Kimmitt said. “They’d rather be back home bird-dogging chicks and fixing their car but they’re not.

“They’re in a country that’s going through a hell of a transition and they are here to do what they’ve got to do to help.

“And they’re putting their lives on the line to do it and that’s not fun and that’s not easy.”

I hate to be "the girl who compares everything to Band of Brothers", but watching that series has personally given me enormous perspective. Easy Company was deployed for two years; they fought on D-Day, parachuted again as part of Operation Market Garden, held the front line at Bastogne, liberated a concentration camp, and made it to Eagle's Nest for the end of the war in Europe. They then started training to head to the Pacific, though the war actually ended before they were deployed. Easy Company, a company that suffered 150% casualties, has been my own personal source of morale. My husband doesn't have as much food as I'd like, but he doesn't have trenchfoot and he doesn't have to be gone for two years. Looking backwards in time at how our elders went to war has made me grateful for the hand we've been dealt today.

I'm sure Easy Company would've rather been bird-dogging chicks too. But instead they cowboyed up and became one of the most heroic stories of all time.

Posted by Sarah at July 7, 2004 08:13 PM

Perspective certainly helps, but usually my selfishness wins and I just want my girl happy and home.

Posted by: Beth at July 8, 2004 04:47 PM