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Saturday, January 29, 2005

Yellow Sticker Patriotism

yellowribbon2.pngI overheard a fellow Marine officer make a curious comment the other day. He said 
that for some people the entire scope of their contribution to the war is putting a yellow sticker on their car. Of course his sentiments towards these people were not positive. I guess he thinks that people should contribute more.

I guess it's a good sign that someone can actually complain that support isn't good enough. At least people aren't spitting on us at airports like in the past.
I don't agree with my colleague. I am grateful for all the positive thoughts and all the well-wishers. There will be plenty of people wanting to shoot me soon, so I'll take all the help I can get whenever and wherever I can get it.

I am doing more than put a sticker on my car. I'll be going into harm's way, but am I really contributing?

This is the terrible burden I will be facing. I've stepped up to the plate, but will I be helping or hurting the war effort?

Could it be that someone else may be able to do a better job, help win it faster, give the commander more support in accomplishing his missions, keep more Americans alive? Who am I to jump in and take on this burden? Can my failures and weaknesses cause other Marines to suffer?

Probably. We all have failures and weaknesses. But there is a job to do and someone has to do it. I stepped up to the plate. I've got a good staff and I've got good training. I've excelled in every job I've ever had, this will be no different.

But that confidence doesn't stop me from worrying. When I stop worrying is when I will fail. When I stop worrying, I will stay home and put a yellow sticker on my car and I will know that I would be doing all I should.

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Long Shadows
There's no moonlight and the sun is down, leaving the air suddenly and bitterly cold after a nice warm day. Far in the distance, a mile or more in some cases, are some lights. Some are flood lights, some are head 
lights, but they're all a long way away. This is my new home in the high desert. I'm walking back to my hootch in the dark after a slightly pleasant meal at the chow hall, trying not to twist my ankle in a rut formed by the torrents of water that ran through whenever it happens to rain.

As I walk along I see movements to my side, but there's no one there. Very disconcerting. I was getting a bit spooked. I see clear shadows of people walking by, but no people. Are there ghosts in the Mojave?

More movements and I look around, listening for people talking. I hear some laughter from far off, maybe a couple hundred yards, but I can't see them very clearly. Off in the distance I see headlights, maybe a 
kilometer and a half away. The headlights are blinking as people walk around the vehicles. 

I've found my ghosts. The Marines from so far away are making shadows near me and even further. The air is so clear, the land has no obstructions, vegetation, or buildings -- making the shadows very long. They reach out and change how I see things near me. In the light of day all is clear, but at night these eerie shadows dance and beguile the senses. Here in the desert it's easy to see how something far away can influence our perceptions. This happens all the time, but here in the scenic vacuum of the desert the influence is starkly apparent.

Most people wander about the Earth not realizing how things far away change how they live. Most people live their lives not realizing how things long ago affect their society.

I'm in the desert and I can see how lights play with my eyes. I am in the desert and I can see how things in the past affect me now. I am in the desert and I think I can know that what we do now will impact the world for decades and centuries to come.
But what that impact will be isn't clear. I can only trust that what we do here in the desert will start or continue to influence others and allow them to live in justice and prosperity.

Saturday, January 01, 2005

Finally Some Common Sense on Torture
I can't believe it took this long for the United States government to finally take a stand against torture liberally defined, nor can I believe that anyone in our nation ever considered otherwise.

The memo prepared by the Department of Justice says, "Torture is abhorrent both to American law and values and to international norms." It further explains that torture includes actions that don't necessarily inflict agonizing pain for long periods.

Geez, it's about time. I feel like I'm living in Amerca again!
And it feels good again.