Tuesday, January 31, 2006

You cant black out the stars

I sit down to write this entry as I am about two hours away from going outside my FOB. I imagine this exact sequence of events has been played over millions of times throughout the history of wars on this earth. I am not nervous in any way but there are a few guys who still get the jitters before leaving. Maybe a little bit of nervousness is a good thing, maybe it will keep them on their toes. I try to be careful not to become too lax but for some reason I fear nothing in Iraq. Now I know this is a lot of feelings sharing from me but I don’t want to make this too much of a personal thing, I am trying to describe the feelings that soldiers have in the face of some type of danger. I know we aren’t storming the beaches of Normandy, or dropping in on a hot LZ behind enemy lines, but we do face our own dangers that are relatively new to the battlefield. Everyday soldiers go outside the gate they take the risk of it possibly being their last time, and depending where they are, some even risk their lives simply walking around their base.

During my pre-deployment training I had the opportunity to help out my family in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. While there my uncle, who was in the service himself, gave me a small daily devotional book that he got from his grandfather. Inside the cover there was written the date December 8, 1942. The devotional was written for the soldiers during WWII and had belonged to my uncle’s grandfather when he served in the military during that time. Each day the book addresses in some ways how to maintain one’s faith and live godly during war. All around the country different pastors contributed a daily lesson to the book. Some offer advice on how to better walk with the Lord, some offer advice on how to make it through tough times, and some offer advice on how soldiers should treat their enemies. The striking thing about the devotional though is the parallels is has to this very war and I am assuming every war ever fought in America’s history.

Soldiers are the same now as they were in WWII. They are fighting for a cause that most of them believe is right. I am sure many soldiers during WWII wondered how fighting the Nazis was their job since the Nazis hadn’t invaded America. Sure we should fight the Japanese (al qaeda) because they bombed us, but why the Nazis, all they were doing was killing and torturing people in Europe, why is that our job to take care of? The same sentiment rings true in today’s military. Most of us believe we are fighting an evil enemy and liberating an oppressed people while there is still a number of soldiers who have no idea why we are here.

I read the devotional every day so as not only to be encouraged in my walk with the Lord, but also in some way to connect with the soldiers of yesterday. Every soldier in America’s history is connected in some way. The connection comes from their fight for freedom whether it was against the King, slavery, communism, or terrorism just to name a few. They are also connected because war is an ugly thing and they haven’t always known how to cope with it. They have needed help along the way and continue to need help in dealing with certain aspects of war.

The devotional for me encourages me that I am doing the right thing: fighting evil and spreading liberty to a society unaccustomed to it. It reminds me that there are bigger things out there besides this little war of ours. It reminds me that this world is far from perfect, and that if history repeats itself that it never will be. It also teaches me the lesson that if only we could learn from the past instead of repeating it then we might be able to move forward as a society. Until that happens there will still be war and suffering just as there has always been.

My favorite passage from the devotional comes from the entry on December 1st. The author of that day tells the story of a farmer who had been ordered by a captain of the conquering army in his country to turn over his crops in order to feed the captain’s men. The captain told the farmer that if he was stubborn they would take away everything the farmer had. In reply the farmer told the captain that he couldn’t take away the stars. The farmer knew that he could lose everything he had, his crops, his home, and his family, but he knew that the captain could only affect worldly things. The world was going to continue to turn and the stars were going to continue to shine. This passage encourages me to go outside the gate each day because no matter what a terrorist can take from me he can never make the world stand still and he can never black out the stars.


Anonymous said...

Thank you Boggs for your inner thoughts. The more things change, the more things stay the same. You have a very wise uncle. Do you know that some people, not in war, haven't got a clue about why they are doing what they go out to do every day either? Some are sure and, some are confused. I have heard some soldiers say that being in war makes them feel more alive. Maybe it is because reality is so in your face. Your bloggs help us to see things more clearly and we really do appreciate that. Hopefully what you write can make us appreciate reality more and cause us all to have real purpose as we all go our ways daily. Think I'll take a better look at the stars tonight, Boggs. Thank you so much for your thoughtful words this morning and for the insight into how our guys feel and think. Take care.

David M said...

Bravo Soldier!

Anonymous said...

Dear Sir Boggs,
The most influencial thing you said to me in your blog today was, "....in my walk with the Lord". I am an old soldier now but have walked where you are walking, young man. Carry on! You can be assured that I will be praying for you and may the Lord bless you, Sgt. Boggs.
Herschel C. Hillman
Tucson, Arizona

Anonymous said...

Wonderful blog Tim. I may not know many things, Boggs, but I know that only trusting the Lord can give me peace, and calm my fears through difficult, and frightning times. I'm happy to know that He is there with you. Thank you for a glimpse at "a soldiers heart". Now.....I'm going outside to look at the stars.
Be safe Boggs.

t.h. snure said...

Thank you Annie for the plug, but that bit of wisdom came not from me (I'm the uncle) but from my very wise nephew. My wife and I went through that devotional after 9/11 and we did see some parallels between times, but certainly not from the incredible perspective that our "wise beyond his years" blogger has. The only wisdom I showed here was in deciding that the book didn't belong on my shelf here, but in the hands of a man chosing to place himself in harm's way.

I hope you have the opportunity to put the book on the shelf one day Tim, but unfortuneately I'm sure you will know who to pass it on to in the next generation when the time comes.

Your (very proud) Uncle

Mrs. Diva said...

What a moving thing to have passed down to you.

gypsy said...

BZ t.f., what a heartfelt post. I am sure you treasure this book, may your faith bring you strength when you need it most. And know we're here praying for you and sending good thoughts your way.

Next time I look at the stars (it's very overcast today) I shall remember...

T. F. Boggs said...

Thanks guys, I appreciate all of the prayer and support. It is great to hear from you and I am glad you are still reading. David M I check out your blog and I like getting the web reconnaisance. I am not the best blog reader so I like getting the highlights, keep it up. Thanks Herschel for your comments, I love having past soldiers reading my blog, it makes me feel accountable to tell it like it is and not to embelish because I know others like yourself can call my bluff.

the dude said...

Well done, writing what is real and unchallenged in your life is your most powerful subject. You seem to have found a niche in this blogging realm.

Anonymous said...

I agree with you "the dude".

Huntress said...

Beautiful.....simply beautiful!

Stay safe!

Huntress said...

Beautiful.....simply beautiful!

Stay safe!

Anonymous said...

I thank my son, your once upon a time Philosophy Prof., for putting me onto your blog. But I'm especially thankful to you for your beautiful words and your selfless act of protecting me and our great country. Know that you are in my prayers!
JMP's mom