Monday, December 26, 2005
Life as usual
I don't know whether I specified before or not but I am an army reservist. Life as a reserve soldier has drastically changed since 9/11. Reservists used to hang out like the commercials say, "One weekend a month, two weeks every summer". I hear stories about the good ol’ days of working hard and playing hard. Stories from field training exercises that involved just as much beer as they did anything else. But to me these are only other people's stories. I joined the army in early 2002 so I am used to active duty more than life as a reservist. I was only out of basic training a few months before I was deployed to Iraq the first time, and home less then a year before I learned I was coming back for a second tour. This past Thanksgiving I woke up in the middle of the desert in my sleeping bag feeling completely normal as I rolled over and opened up a Cajun Rice and Beans MRE for breakfast. I started thinking about what I used to do on Thanksgiving but it seems that I have been over here for the past several years.
Today’s reserve army consists of a bunch of civilians being taxed to the extreme trying to maintain a civilian family life while at the same time dealing with the headache that is the military. Of course I am not looking for sympathy, nor am I complaining. Everyone in the military volunteered to join and therefore has no right to bitch about having to serve their country overseas. I especially have no reason to complain because I don’t have a wife and kids at home that I have to worry about while I am here. I have no idea how people deal with a family and the army at the same time, but I am glad some people know how to handle it.
Iraq is life as usual for me. I have been eating at a chow hall, taking field showers, wearing body armor, setting up tents, carrying a loaded weapon etc. for what seems like all of my recent memory. I feel naked without my M-16 when I go home, and it seems like I am living in paradise when I can leave the water on for the whole time I am in the shower. I remember getting upset the day I got home from my first deployment and on the way home I couldn’t point my weapon at people and make them get out of the way of my car.
Life in Iraq will continue to go on as usual for soldiers for years to come. I just hope a whole new slew of kids can experience it for me. So if you know someone who wants to join the military tell them the army reserves is where its at. That way I can get on with American life as usual. Don’t take me wrong though, I have had, and continue to have, a good time working in Iraq. I am glad I got the chance to serve my country during war time, and even happier for being afforded the chance to spread freedom and democracy in the Middle East. At the very core of human existence I believe everyone wants to be free, and that is what democracy allows, freedom. And for this very reason Communism and tyranny fail time and time again.
The picture above is the sunset that I see every night from the roof of my billets. With sunsets like these Iraq can't possibly be that bad.