Sunday, August 14, 2005

Life.....American Style

Tonight, I went to our town fair with friends. We went to take our kids (13,9,9,7,and 5) to watch, well, er, a "smash up derby". This is one of those things that I would never typically attend (not my thing, I equate it to a very local level of Nascar in my mind,-that's a prejudice I'm trying to work on), but last year the boys had gone and they had a great time, so I decided to tag along.

I was able to bring my niece along, she's the same age as my boys, and they are loving living near each other for the first time in their lives. The reason they are able to do that, however, is double edged, as her dad is serving in Iraq right now, so they are here to be near family.

As we found a place near the side to stand and watch, the kids talked animatedly about which car they were choosing to win. The announcer stated that the event would begin, and would we please stand for the National Anthem. Tonight was a little different. Usually, when the Star Spangled Banner plays, I don't think, I just feel. Sometimes I get a smile, sometimes tears, sometimes goose bumps. Tonight I just looked from the flag to my niece. I reached out and touched her shoulder. I thought about her father waking up at that time in a tent with hundreds of Iraqi soldiers far away. I thought about how badly I wanted to be there too, and why. I thought about my own kids, and what they might think of the person I am, and have been, when I die someday.

I used to have this idea. It came from my father leaving me as a child. It was that every parent was responsible to their children first. And that if all parents in the world followed that, we wouldn't need people taking care of other people's children. The problem with that is, well, there's no such thing as utopia. People are human. They act in terrible ways sometimes. And other people come along and act in turn in wonderful ways that try to undo the damage of the terrible.

Everyone I know has said to me, "you don't have to go to Iraq...why?" "You aren't in the Armed Forces, you know." Yeah, I know. I also know that they (the Armed Forces) can't do it (getting the country on her feet again) alone. It takes rebuilding the infrastructure as well. Someone has to help them (Iraqis) do it. Someone has to do all of the things in this world that are hard and have to get done. I won't say it's a sacrifice for me, because I love what I do, and I love the people I do it with.

That said, is it my job to not go to places that may be dangerous because my kids aren't yet grown? Or are there hundreds or even thousands that I could affect more? Which is my first duty? I truly try to use the same theory that Michael Yon does, which is taking calculated risks, not stupid ones. I'm still walking that tightrope, holding my boys' hands on one side, and the other loves in my life on the other side.

I'm an American, and to me that means doing as much possible for as many as possible. As I always tell my boys, love multiplies, hate divides. All I can hope is to love enough in my life to cause the multiplication effect.

2 Comments:

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Anonymous Dr. Health said...

The announcer stated that the event would begin, and would we please stand for the National Anthem.

2:04 PM  

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