Wednesday, July 29, 2009

One Touch at a Time (by Rebecca @ The Reluctant Homefront)

A very special guest blogger today. I found my way over to Rebecca's blog via Billy Coffey's blog. Turns out they are from the same neck of the woods. Rebecca's blog is an outgrowth of her husband's deployment to Iraq, hence the name "The Reluctant Homefront". I asked Rebecca to guest post for me because a) she's a great writer, and b) it seems all we ever hear about from the media is bad news when it comes to the war. I think we should take the opportunity to celebrate the good things going on over there. It's also a good reminder to keep our service men and women in our prayers and be thankful for their sacrifices - for their country and their families. So, enough of me - here's Rebecca:

The vehicle bounced and jounced down the dirt road. Rattling around the turret one could look out and see a steep drop-off to the first side, a muddy canal to the other. The mechanical hulk was only going 35 mph, but still the soldiers below were lifted several feet in the air and jarred their heads against the metal ceiling with each hole or rut the wheels hit. The sun scorched the land as the road stretched out as if going forever, a dusty tan ribbon running ahead of the convoy.

After passing more and more of the same dusty sand and rocks, the convoy drove up to a little hut in the middle of a field. It was little more than a hovel, sticks held together with mud and baked solid in the heat. The tussled soldiers filed out of the vehicles and smiled as children peered out the door at them and shuffled out, some shyly, others with excitement. These soldiers had been here before, and had noticed the poverty of the little family: a man; his wife and a mother, sister, or aunt; and five children like stair steps. They all lived together in the little mud hut barely the size of a bedroom back home in the States. The family was friendly, though. The children had waved at the convoys before, and the man was most welcoming in spite of the language barrier.

This little farm family had touched the hearts of the soldiers, and while out on a mission to detect those who set up the mortars which showered the base every night, they wanted to help however they could. The soldiers brought MRE meals, drinks and water, and two soccer balls to brighten the children’s day. Ever grateful, the man volubly expressed his thanks in his own language. The soldiers did their best to understand without the help of an experienced translator, wishing they had been able to bring one with them just to speak with this man. They wanted so much to help and to show that they cared. After each side struggled to express themselves, the soldiers had to move on. They filed back to their vehicles, one reaching a tanned hand out to tousle the hair of one of the little boys as they raced past the men and women to the fields beyond for an impromptu soccer match. Although the soldiers would have many other missions, this family would stay in their minds: the poverty, the gratefulness, and the gracious welcome to strangers from another land. They could have been seen as armed and dangerous. Instead they were welcomed as friends and protectors.


I didn’t witness this first hand. This sight formed in my mind as I smoothed cool sheets under my hands, straightened a coverlet, and settled on the edge of the bed to listen to my husband’s story. I relaxed into the mattress as he led me through that day, happy to share a good memory of helping others. I heard the satisfaction in my husband’s voice as he spoke about reaching out to the people he meets on missions now. A prior operation was training the civilian police force, something he found was often frustrating and repetitive. This new set of orders has enabled his unit to travel among the Iraqi people, and while there they are free to help in whatever ways they can. The soldiers are most fulfilled not in battles or taking down enemies (although they feel successful when those things occur), but in doing what they believe is their larger mission: aiding the Iraqi people to rebuild their lives.

I listen to these stories of the sun-baked desert from my rain-drenched house and feel more pride than ever in what we’re doing. Our family gives up its leader for a time, sharing his strength and care with another family thousands of miles away. No matter how the war was begun, the soldiers want to win it. One touch at a time.

To read more from Rebecca, visit her at The Reluctant Homefront


Peter P said...

I love hearing stories like this.

You have a wonderful gift for writing and Have expressed this in an incredible way.

I hope many people read this and see that there is much more being done than bombing and shooting!

sherri said...

This is beautifully written, Rebecca. Thanks for sharing with us his stories. God bless your husband and all the troops who are sacrificing so much to touch lives of others.

Candace Jean July 16 said...

Rebecca, I love how you have captured your husband's experience in words. May God bring him home safe to you. Please thank him for his service. I'm sure he felt your presence as he greeted that familyi, and blessed to have you to welcome him home.

Billy Coffey said...

Beautifully done, Rebecca. I wish more people could hear stories like this, truth without the muddiness of political slant.

Praise for your husband's service and those small acts of kindness that too often go unknown by the rest of us. Prayers that he'll be home soon.

Annie K said...

Awesome story Rebecca. We need to hear more like these..America needs to hear more like these.

You have a gift for writing and you have told of your husband's mission beautifully. I pray for his and his units safety.

Jeanne Damoff said...

Lovely story. Thanks for putting human faces and hearts on a situation that many people like to summarily dismiss as our "unnecessary and pointless war." Love and compassion are never pointless, whether they wear street clothes, medical scrubs, a clerical collar, or a military uniform.

My highest regards to you and your husband. You have every reason to be proud of him.

Beth said...

I'm with everybody else. Great story. Thank you so much for sharing it. I'll be praying for your family, too! One of my friends flew a medical helicopter in Iraq for many months, and I absolutely loved getting his email updates with stories like this one.

Helen said...

Thank you for sharing this story. My prayers are with your husband and you.
I am with everyone else commenting. Stories like this need to be told. Have you considered sending this to the editor of your local paper?

jasonS said...

That is powerful. Puts the whole thing in perspective. Thank God for your husband and everyone serving with him. Blessings to you too...

Rebecca on The Homefront said...

Katdish, thank you for letting me share this post here. You're amazing!

Thank you all so much for the kind words. I am continually surprised and uplifted by the support I see for the military. For every negative or hateful person there are so many more people like y'all who are kind and think well of our men and women in uniform.

Speaking for my husband and his battle buddies, your good thoughts and prayers mean more than anything. Thanks again!

Wendy said...

It really upsets me that this kind of thing is so rarely reported in the media. Heroes like this should be recognized. Thank your husband for us, huh?