Friday, October 21, 2005

Longest Absence Yet... Happy Ramadan

Such mixed emotions fill these days.

On one hand, this environment is so sheltered, so capable of providing a hiding place from reality. Then again, my deployment to Iraq has given such ample opportunity to realize that SO MANY people are busy doing that regardless of location anyway!

For some of us that is because the pain of sympathy is too great if we let ourselves feel; for some of us it's because we never liked engaging our brains in the first place for such mundane choices as which breakfast cereal to eat -- why break the cycle and think now? ...for some they've just never quite grown into responsibility enough to do anything more than fall through their life -- day after day -- until they breathe their last breath.

And I stand to offer a spin on the many perspectives out "there" in Iraq: the ability to hide from reality as a member of the US military is not dependent on whether you go "outside the wire" or not, whether you face danger, whether you ever wear your body armor... there are people here who just don't want the big picture. It's too much to swallow.

When I first started realizing the high frequency of patrols and trips outside the wire for any standard unit filling that role, I idealized those soldiers as the most in touch with the pulse of Iraq. They got to see the dirty streets, overflowing sewers and disease. They were able to witness what "wealth" and "poverty" look like in the suburbs of baghdad.

Then I began to realize that they were six inches away from a Monet. Do you know what Monet's work looks like from six inches away? Blur. Finger painting. Color. Everything... and nothing... both at once.

The various patrols and missions here "in Iraq" -- as if we could all be generalized into one category -- are in the very least likened to the six blind men each describing a different portion of the elephant (not my metaphor if you haven't heard it before).

Then there are the "support bubbas" -- these may be the mechanics who replace the blood-soaked cushions of a humvee, left-over from an IED fatality; they may be the finance/bankers who cash checks and distribute cash to soldiers from their deployment pay; they may be the IT guys who connect us all on the government network (with some of us still fortunate enough to work out a civilian internet connection directly into their room); they may be the supervisors at the fuel point, the on-the-ground pilot for surveillance drones, the linguist manager for interpreter support, or the Radio/Telephone operator inside a command center -- relaying orders and requests from the personnel out on the missions.

Some of these people don't give a damn that we're in Iraq and people are dying. Some of them are angry that they're not allowed to go outside. Some of them have never experienced the weight of their body armor and basic ammo load for more than a couple hours, and some of them can only think about the next time they'll be able to smoke that next cigarette or eat that next Cinnabon.

I have never been outside the wire.

But I've spent the majority of this year working at a gate. It is one of the many places where the two worlds collide.

The money guys are alway getting ticked off that this damn war keeps getting in the way of profit -- no joke -- seriously -- if we turn a truck around at the gate for security reasons, no more than 30 minutes will pass before some contractor or military COR (contracting office representative) is calling commanders and royally griping about inconvenience.

We just passed the one-year anniversary of the death of 3 soldiers who died taking down a guy who had been known and trusted on THIS BASE for a year. Times have changed. Security is improved. And Pat and I (and our two trusty side-kicks) are a coupld people who do give a damn and will continue to do so until we hand off to our relief.

My time is running short. This has been a rant. (duh) I want you all to know I'm still safe. Ramadan is still taking place -- it's a dangerous time right now. If you're the praying type, pray. There are a lot of soldiers who are in the double-digits countdown of days until they get to go home. Our families are waiting.

Please remember us in your prayers regardless of what you think of this "war." Know that there is still a substantial contingent of us who don't believe we should be here, but who will honorably complete this mandatory duty. We will come home. We will come home. Keep a candle burning.


At 10/21/2005 10:50 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You have my prayers

At 10/22/2005 2:34 PM, Blogger Mary Godwin said...

I am the praying type, Tommi, and I am remembering you. -mom

At 10/23/2005 1:31 AM, Anonymous dr. b. said...

Prayers are definitely being said! Stay safe.

At 10/23/2005 6:01 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nice to hear your "voice" again. Praying for you daily. Looking forward to that homecoming.


P.S. Stephen and Lisa are expecting. Due date mid-May.

At 10/25/2005 5:36 AM, Blogger Ramadan-Blessings said...

Please share your Ramadan experience at
Ramadan Forums

At 10/25/2005 10:52 PM, Blogger James said...

Come home...come home, come home come home!

counting down with you,
your baby brother,

At 10/29/2005 5:59 AM, Anonymous Winston said...

Candles are lit...still...

At 11/10/2005 8:34 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I, too, have you in my prayers for your wellbeing, your safe return home and adjustment to civilian life again.
Randy's Mother

At 11/24/2005 11:16 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Many thoughts and prayers for you and your safety as you count down the days until you return to MN and civilian life. Thanks for your dedication to service to our Country.
I pray that you find a few bright spots and happier memories of this time so far from home, and hope to see you soon back in Bemidji.


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