Thank a Soldier
While many in the United States were watching the football play-offs, I was watching Lone Survivor. Yes, that’s right, I was watching a movie while the rest of the United States was watching the real-world drama of who would play in the Super Bowl. Yep, they were watching a game.
I have to say that no matter how painful it was to watch the 49’ers/Seahawk game, it doesn’t begin to compare to the pain I felt watching the movie. Of course, I am biased. I spend my days surrounded by special-operations forces. (If you want to know what a hero is, find one of them.) I know them by name. I hear stories about their families. I joke with them. I listen to their frustrations. Oh wait, I live with a former one of them. So, of course, a story about them losing their lives would be more important than a football game.
I know, I have just broken a cardinal rule; football, basketball, baseball, celebrity, they are all more important than the sacrifices made by our military. At least, that’s what the world tells us and that’s what our Congress reinforces, when military benefits, which are something earned, vs. an entitlement like welfare, which is something mandated by Congress, are taken away without a moment’s hesitation..
A veteran of multiple deployments by my husband, I don’t consider myself an easy sell. I am, after all, the mother who was watching We Were Soldiers, (call me a glutton for punishment) when my 4-year-old son crawled out of bed, and started smacking the TV, yelling at the Vietnamese to leave his father alone. It doesn’t really matter that he wasn’t in Vietnam, but that my 4-year-old knew what war was. Yes, at 4, he knew what war was — never mind the girl at the gaming store who thought when he was 12 that I was a bad mother for letting him play a game with the word war in the title.
Of course, I had lived the life my son has lived. My father, at 30, was called pappy in Vietnam. I didn’t know that. I was only 3. What I knew, was that my daddy (now approaching his 80th birthday) was gone. I was the one who laid by the front door, waiting for him to come home. I was the one whom my grandfather and mother put to bed; only to find me in the morning, laying in front of the same front door, waiting for my father to come home.
Knowing my history, you can maybe understand my thoughts reference this movie — or not. I really couldn’t care less. Yep, I just said that. You see, like many of you who are reading this, while I do not know the men in this movie, I know men just like them. I know the men who fought up the mountain and back down again in the Shok Valley of Afghanistan (Google it. It’s just as compelling). While I do not know their names, I have heard the stories of the villagers who climbed up the mountain in Afghanistan, and vowed to protect my husband who was setting up communications during the beginning of the war. They knew and understood the meaning of Pashtunwali, which is described at the end of the movie. It’s a concept of hospitality. Once someone offers you their protection, they will die to make sure you are safe. I know the name of the Iraqi woman, who asked me to be her friend because my son sent Christmas presents to her children in hopes that her husband wouldn’t want to kill his daddy who was deployed there. By the way, she asked me to be her friend. I count myself lucky.
As a member of the 4th estate, I read the news (all sources) and have read the reviews of the movie, including the one where the reviewer said it was far-fetched and over blown. Really?
Climb a mountain in Afghanistan. HALO into the wilds of Africa. Then tell the world what our soldiers do is overblown. Let me know if you will fight your way through an Afghan town, walking in front of a HUMVEE, keeping villagers away from the vehicle so your men will be safe. To the critics, who are trumpeting that the film rings false, let me know if you will go into a remote village in Africa with limited food and medical supplies and spend months doing a mission — eating whatever the villagers can provide you — even if you don’t know what it is.
If you want to criticize our soldiers, stand by a grave of someone you love, and hear “Taps” played and watch their children’s world fall apart — when you can do that, write your letters and your ignorant Facebook posts. Until then, say thank you and say a prayer every night, because they are the ones who keep harm from your door and their spouses and children are the ones who have helped pay the price.
Overblown, not true to life? We can’t even begin to imagine. Thank a soldier that you don’t have to.