Monday, March 24, 2003

Well there is so much to say today. It was a rollercoaster weekend. I realize that is because the new embedded journalist angle puts us more into the scene. Really what it did for me is make me realize that I had no idea what soldiers actually did during a day. I know that what we see on TV is still a pretty sanitized but it is the clearest picture I have ever seen.
A few things that struck me from this weekend:

I watched the entire Umm Qasr fight on TV... from the moment they first broke in with the British reporter until the air strike. This included some very surreal moments. First of all was the fact that my eyes kept being drawn to the marines in the very front. They looked like statues, unmoving pictures of soldiers poised with their rifles aimed at a target in the distance. Then the tanks moved in... still they lay in the dust. My hours were spent watching this scene and I changed positions countless times but those soldiers stayed, eyes trained ahead. As everyone dissappeared, after they called in air strikes, all the cable news stations showed a similar scene. A tree line somewhere in a city most of us had never heard of before was shown on camera. Occasionally you could hear the planes coming in the distance... then noise... then silence. I was riveted. The second thing that struck me was the irony of the staged "press conference" I saw carried in this time frame. As we were preparing to finish off the remaining troops in this city some Iraqi Minister was crowing about pushing us into a swamp. After every statement I wondered if he was watching the same scenes I was? The words sure didn't seem to match reality. I guess that isn't news exactly it was just striking to see a side by side comparison of real life and spin.

As I was drifting off to sleep at 4AM I was just hearing that the Iraqi's had POW's. I went to sleep praying for them. I awoke to newspeople looking shocked... that's the only word I can see that fits... just shocked. So the rest of my day was spent in gratitude. Every smile from my nephews and every glance at the blue sky from our swingset was a gift. It always has been a gift. I just don't think it's ever as obvious as it was yesterday. You see the biggest contrast from Umm Qasr and my backyard was that I got to turn reality off for a while. In that I am blessed... and that blessing was bought by the people that I have watched on TV these past few days... and the countless like them that I will never see or know. There have been generations of battles that I have been spared. For that I am grateful. I can't say "thanks" enough these days. I can't hug my family enough. I can't seem to stop saying "I love you" to everyone I love. I can't smile at strangers enough. I cry at every flag... at every playing of the Star Spangled Banner. From this day on when I look at our flag I will see it differently. Those red stripes, that blood that made my life possible, it's never been more visible or personal.

I pray that I will never forget. As my generation grows and molds the next generation I pray that we will instill the important sense of awe at the sacrifices involved in our liberty.

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