We are rapidly approaching the holiday season where families gather for thanksgiving, then Christmas and New Years. As we get ready for this holiday season we have thousands of young men and women around the world helping countries to walk towards the light of freedom.
As they sweat in the deserts of the Middle East and freeze in the cold mountain winters of Afghanistan each and everyone one of them is thinking of us, their loved ones and families.
In the quiet before battle they are wondering, as we ready for the holidays, if we appreciate what they are doing and are we thinking of them, do we miss them, is our love for them still pure and faithful, thinking of wives and girlfriends; maybe as they are reloading M-16 magazines, counting and issuing grenades, stacking boxes of machine gun ammunition or re-sand bagging their defensive positions.
What we are doing seems so inconsequential and miniscule compared to what they are going through. To us the traffic at the mall during the holidays is a pain, winterizing our homes for winter and budgeting for our heating bills, is a drain but that is our world.
What about the special ops recon troops that are preparing to go into enemy held territory? As they organize their equipment and try to figure how much equipment they will need for the expected time of the mission.
Then when they complete the mission, get de-briefed, take a hot shower, wash the camouflage off and think about the people they killed and maybe a friend they lost. They don’t want to talk to anyone; they just want to reconcile their feelings. They’ll think of home and feel very lonely because in combat, your world is violence, killing, deprivation and death. They need an anchor in reality to keep from slipping away from the world they came from; because this is the world they are now living in.
How do we know what they are going through? Many of the kids in the military are sons, daughters or grand children of combat veterans who made this trip many years ago. Even if they are not related to us by blood, they are related by experience; experience that bonds us by the pain, suffering and loneliness that we combat veterans have lived through.
As the holidays approach, even during these financially tough times, buy a gift; maybe a few food items, a bag of candy left over from Halloween (I’ll guarantee they’ll share it with their friends or children in their area), or a simple letter of appreciation and gratitude. It will make the separation from those they love a little less lonely. There will be drop off points in the area to leave items for “the kids” who are making these sacrifices.
Lee Quandt is a former State Representative from Exeter and Army veteran that served 37 months on combat tours between1965-1971