Relentless: Showing or promising no abatement of severity, intensity, strength, or pace (From the Merriam Webster Online Dictionary)
All day long, I’ve moped around my house, tired and hurting from whatever flu like symptons I have. I’ve organized a few cards, watched some kid shows, and reluctantly ate some pizza. All day I’ve told myself that I’m glad this happened on my days off and not when I’m supposed to work. In the 4 ½ years since I accepted my position with McAlister’s I’ve never missed a day due to sickness. I’ve worked with the flu, colds, hangovers, you name it. I simply do not miss work. Sick or not, I would have been there the last two days had I been scheduled. Thank God I wasn’t.
Oddly enough, I didn’t watch any sports today. All day it’s been Transformers, Ben 10, and Noggin. We didn’t shoot any fireworks. If anything, I’ve had to console my terrified Chihuahua, Yoga, all night from the loud bangs and pops happening outside. This has been one of the most unpatriotic, or better said, untraditional July the 4th’s I’ve ever spent.
We watched some fireworks on tv and then eventually it was back to the kid shows. Around 10 pm we watched our last show for the night and then Lori began to get Connor ready for bed. I grabbed the remote and flipped over to catch Sportscenter and to see what patriotic uniforms they had come up with for this year’s celebration.
While watching, I was saddened by the fact that I am where I am today because of the fact that many who serve are not where I am today. I watched as countless American Soldiers were brought on to the field at numerous stadiums across the country, as flags were flown, as Bronson Arroyo delivered an outstanding version of “God Bless America”.
I watched as children held their ball caps over their hearts, as grown men cried during the national anthem, as America stood in unity once more. I watched as men of opposing wills that would soon be put to the test on the field stood in unison, in respect, in allegiance to the flag of a relentless nation.
But, the part that saddens me the most is that I sat and watched. For the first time in my adult life, my country celebrates it’s independence and I am not an American Soldier.
Two years ago, I began my journey home. Bagram Air Base became Kandahar became Qatar. Before I knew it, I was landing in Dubai and on to Amsterdam, from there to Memphis, TN and finally back home to Jackson. July 4th, 2006, I would step off the plane exiting a war zone for the last time. I’ll never forget the joy of Connor running to me after nearly a year apart. Would he remember me? Would he know my name? As soon as he said, “I love you, Daddy” all of those fears were put to rest. I’ll never forget falling in love with my wife all over again as she stood crying, thankful that it was all over. I was home.
Somewhere tonight, a soldier sits silent, longing for home, longing for the cookouts and the baseball and the family. Somewhere an American Soldier waits for the clock to strike 12, ready to mark one more day off of their calendar, 1 “x” closer to coming home again. One more soldier holds the pictures of their spouse and children as the tears stream down their face in the darkness. As for me, it’s one less.
I’m grateful that I was lucky enough to come home whole after two trips overseas. Physically, I have no scars. My scars are missing the birth of my son. Not knowing what it felt like when he “kicked” inside the womb. Not seeing my pregnant wife. Missing all of the “terrible twos”. Missing out on so many things that I’ve always wanted.
My scars can’t compare to those that have lost a limb, an eye, their sanity, or worse, their life. To those unfortunate souls, I, We, should be eternally grateful.
The one thing that the military taught me above all is to be relentless. No matter how sick, how tired, how frustrated, you keep pushing. You keep moving. You don’t stop. You keep going. It will all be over soon and you never falter. Maybe that’s why I’ve never missed work. You just do your job and go home when it’s time.
If by happenchance some soldier is reading this blog, keep your head up. Don’t quit. Keep going. You’ll be home before you know it.
You’ll be sitting on your porch one day and those loud bangs won’t be the sounds of the guns and the bombs anymore. They’ll be the sound of fireworks ringing in another year of our independence. They’ll be the triumphant revelrie of your sacrifice to a grateful nation. And this time, you can keep your eyes closed and soak it in. Your days of fighting will be over.
God bless the American Soldier!!