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May 31, 2004

Doing Our Job Duty « GWOT »

The military loves to "process" people. No matter where you go, you must go through "inprocessing" when you arrive, and "outprocessing" when you go. You go through the same sort of things for quarterly and annual training, medical check-ups, vaccinations.

I went through inprocessing when I arrived on station here. One apparently mandatory aspect of inprocessing is The Video of People Doing Cool Stuff to Get You Excited About Your Assignment. We had the obligatory testosterone shots of jets flashing past and bombs being dropped and impacting on tanks and fighting positions with impressive and lethal flashes of light and billows of smoke...

...but what moved me the most, what got me choked up, was simply the shots of people doing their jobs. Watching guys use pickaxes and shovels to dig trenches for cables and/or pipes. Seeing men and women synchronously lift tent poles to set the roof of the new chow hall tent. An airman in a grease-grimed uniform ducking under an engine to tighten a bolt on the underside of the wing. An NCO gently sliding the fuse into Mk 82 bomb.

The shots weren't staged; all the airmen seemed oblivious of the filming. I can only assume it was because they had a job to do that absorbed too much of their attention to waste time or energy being self-conscious.

We do our job. We do our job under conditions that would make most Americans quit in disgust. We do our jobs on holidays when we'd rather be home with our families. One co-worker called me "Holiday Man", because in a span of about 6 months the list of important dates I miss includes just about everything except Columbus Day: Anniversary, Veteran's Day, Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year's Eve, my birthday, my wife's birthday, Memorial Day, Father's Day, and Independence Day. We do our job even under fire, even if it means our lives are given. Our blood, sweat, and tears are spilled in the dust of the Middle East for you, for our families, and for our comrades.

At some point, it's no longer a job. At some point, it is a duty that we have undertaken, a burden that we shoulder. Why? Why us? Because we can. Because others will not. Because sometimes, someone just has to "take one for the team", and fairness and equality don't always enter into it.

That doesn't mean we are special, or different, or even heroes. Some of us join out of chance. Some of us join because it seems like the best choice at the time. Some of us join for purely selfish reasons, and only later grow into the responsibility. I know that for every one of us here, there are 10 people back home who would be willing, even eager, to take our place. But it is not to be. Your job is vital, too.

You must keep the nation for us. Give us something to come home to. Keep the economy humming so that we can afford to give the military pay raises and quality-of-life improvements and new, up-to-date equipment and top-notch training. Love your wives/husbands, teach your children. Vote for the candidate of your choice after you educate yourself. Keep the faith.

It's your duty.

Posted by Nathan at 08:24 AM | Comments (1)
» blogoSFERICS links with: Heroes


You haven't heard from me in a while, but I do check in occasionally, though I don't usually have time to respond. Thanks for the post...would you mind if I shared this one with others on my mailing list? I'll even keep it anonymous if you's good for people to hear these kinds of things from those in the service.

By the way, I recently ran into RFD, of all people, at a handbell concert, of all places. If you want I will let you know of his whereabouts and goings-on.

Take care, Nathan!

Posted by: Beth Landrey at June 2, 2004 06:55 AM
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