February 28, 2004


Well I know what's right,
I've got just one life
In a world that keeps on pushing me around
But I stand my ground
And I won't back down...

It's our favorite AFN commercial; the Johnny Cash version of this song over photos of our servicemembers: Every generation has its heroes. This one is no different.

I did really well this morning. I didn't cry at all. Until I sat down four hours later to post and I started playing this song.

Yesterday morning my husband got promoted to First Lieutenant. I got to go to morning formation and pin his new black bar on his DCUs, and then the Company Commander "watered" his rank with champagne to "help it grow" in the future. He stood in the cold doused in champagne, and the countdown began.

We had less than 24 hours.

We went home and I did all that sewing, he packed and unpacked and repacked and shuffled stuff around and tried to figure out how he could get enough stuff for 14 months into one duffel back and one rucksack. We went to bed sad but promised each other we'd wake up strong.

He had to report at 0430, but I didn't have to be there until 0800. When he came back into our room to kiss me goodbye and I saw the pistol holster on his thigh, I knew it was for real. He left the house, and when I woke back up to get ready to go, I knew he wouldn't be back home for over a year. How long should I leave his dirty clothes sitting on the bedroom floor? When will I feel like cleaning up all the extra brown t-shirts and sunscreen that wouldn't fit in his ruck?

I went up to the gym to find an entire battalion of soldiers complete with Kevlar, IBA, and M16 rifles, plus mountains of duffels and rucks in the middle of the floor. We played the Army hurry-up-and-wait game for hours, but I must say that I was mighty impressed with how organized everything was run. Report here. Line up here. Get weighed here (he added 100 pounds with all his gear). Show your ID card here. Line up for your bus here. Sound off in alphabetical order as you get on the bus. And they were gone.

The First Sergeant was giving us a hard time this morning. "Both of you are going to cry like babies when it's time to go," he teased. So we were determined to prove him wrong. I got a kiss on the forehead and the husband headed to the bus. On the way out, another wife whose eyes were red commented how strong I looked. Her four year old son [thatís Dewey] said, "I'm being strong too." We both agreed that he was a brave boy, and he said, "Yeah, Mom, you're just a big crybaby." It was the comic relief we needed. The hardest thing I did this morning was watch two little daughters start to cry when their daddy's name got called for the bus. How could I feel sorry for myself after seeing that?

On the way home, I got stopped at a red light, and a row of buses crossed my intersection. I counted: Bus One, Two, Three, Four, FIVE, and honked the horn. And there he was, waving to me out of the window of Bus Five. And like that, he was gone.

It's hard to really imagine how long a year is. One year ago this weekend the husband and I were eating our nasty old wedding cake and celebrating our anniversary (four years ago this Sunday was the day we decided to make the leap from being good friends to being a couple). When you realize we've only been married 20 months, it makes 14 months seem like it will never end. But we're lucky to have so many advantages on our side.

We live in a military community, where everyone is going through the exact same thing. All but one of the men on my street are now gone. Even my co-worker's girlfriend is gone. Everyone around me is in the same boat, and we can take care of each other and help each other through this.

We also have the advantage of being optimistic about our country's military goals and mission. My husband and I support our President and this war in Iraq, we believe the War on Terror is very real and very important, and we think that his service to our country is an honor and a duty that he is proud to fulfill. I can't imagine what this year would be like if we didn't believe that we were sacrificing for something so important to us as our country's future.

And finally we both know that the real news from Iraq is not what you see on the TV. We know that progress is being made every day, progress that leads us one day closer to a democratic Iraq and a more secure future in the Middle East. I know where to read the real stories from soldiers, through blogs and Stars and Stripes, and I have my own personal eyewitness on the ground right now to provide me with an honest opinion of our presence in Iraq.

As I watched the soldiers get ready to go, I couldn't help but think about how amazing they are. They are about to spend a year of their life doing a job that might bring lots of danger and only lip-service respect, yet you could feel the excitement in the air. There were some tearful goodbyes with families, of course, but I didn't hear any grumbling at all this morning. I saw smiles, heard jokes, and shook lots of hands as I said my goodbyes. I'm so proud of every last one of these young men that my heart could burst.

Every generation has its heroes. This one is no different.

Posted by Sarah at 04:19 PM | Comments (7) | TrackBack