OK, so I watched the episode of The View with Michelle Obama and Jill Biden. One comment stood out for me: unlike in WWII when it seems like everyone understood the sacrifices for the war effort, nowadays there’s a disconnect. I think it was Barbara Walters who said maybe it’s because not too many people know anyone serving in the military (thus the importance of Mrs. Obama’s and Dr. Biden’s cause). She suggested we search out military families and offer our help (a good idea). But, I’d like to add that maybe it’s because, unlike in the 1940s, nothing has changed for us. Sure there’s all the national security theater post 9-11, but that’s more connected to the event than to our military. The last time I wrote about this, my friend Fitzy suggested bringing back the War Bonds, and I think she’s absolutely right. War tax and higher gas prices to reflect the real cost of our involvement in the Middle East and Africa, and war bonds to pay for some of the cost of war. Oh, and let’s drag out the Weinberger Doctrine again and re-evaluate if really even need or want to wage war. We need to make some hard decisions — do we want life to be cheap and easy (then stop the warfighting and the spending as much on our military as the rest of the world combined and use some of that to pay down our debt), or do we want to protect our overseas interests (oil) and be the world’s policemen (and therefore suck it up and pay more to bankroll it rather than less)?
Anyway, enough of that rant and back to connecting with military families. It probably is a good idea to share our stories. Not the “my life sucks more than your life” competition, but just the everyday anecdotes about the differences. Today I was talking about Powers of Attorney with my kickboxing teacher. She’s never had her life so dominated by a Power of Attorney as I have, and we both laughed at the absurdity of me needing one when hubby and I were first stationed in Germany to pick up my vehicle from the processing place — my vehicle that I had before I even met him (and was actually instrumental in our meeting), that I had paid for with MY money, and that was in MY name — but still I needed his permission to pick it up. So there’s a little slice of military life shared.
In a small bit of cosmic alignment, when I was driving home from kickboxing there was a military related story on the radio. It was about the filmmakers who filmed Restrepo — documenting a year in the life of soldiers at a remote Afghan outpost. If you haven’t seen this movie, DO. It’s raw. I thought it was sad — we don’t get the Afghans and they don’t get us — it all seems so pointless. It’s another story shared.
I have a happy story too. When we were stationed in Wiesbaden, there was a whole cabal of captains who hung out together and supported each other professionally. They all went to war together in 2002 through 2003 (yes, you read that right — at the end of 2002 we were in Kuwait preparing for invasion into Iraq) and I think that experience forged strong bonds. One of those former captains just had a baby, and another one is here in Hawaii with us. Actually two are here, but one is in my quilting class — and she wanted to send a bit of Aloha to the new baby. We worked together to use some of her new-found patchwork skills and made this Aloha Baby Quilt which should be on it’s way to proud mama and babe right now. (This is the first entire quilt I’ve quilted on a longarm machine — thanks to a generous friend from the guild who has one and is married to the military herself.)
So there’s a few stories shared about the 1% of Americans who serve in the military. Let’s go find some more and bridge that disconnect.