If you’re scrolling through social media today, you have probably seen posts about the American troops that have rapidly deployed in big numbers this week. I don’t know the statistics, but it seems like it has been a while since we’ve seen this kind of quick reaction and deployment on such a scale as 3,000+ troops. And the reactions are already rolling in…
I don’t watch much of the news as a general rule when it comes to military movements and events. I have a pretty reliable source for that – and while so many people are reposting articles about the soldiers leaving, talking about how the block holiday leave has been interrupted for so many, and expressing their concern for our troops and their families… still others persist with yet another reason to disagree and cast blame.
Watching video of the soldiers of the 82nd Airborne Division march out on that airfield, army green against a beautiful blue sky, with that ominous C-17 looming in the background, I get goosebumps. Knowing where they are headed, my eyes fill with tears. The ones taking those pictures, watching those soldiers walk away from them, make my heart ache. Writing these words I am filled with so many memories of the same and my first instinct is to squeeze those tears back and pray every prayer I’ve got for their safe return.
You know what else I feel though? Maybe it’s just me, but I hope not. It’s so hard to describe, but I’ll try…
Those men and women in uniform – walking away from their holiday break, their families, their homes and neighborhoods, their daily comforts, their way of life – represent a level of pride and hope that you can’t put words to. They come from different backgrounds, neighborhoods, and beliefs. They don’t all follow the same sport or have the same favorite team. They might like country music or hip hop or Chopin. They probably voted for different people and have plenty to say about the state of politics in this country. Yet somehow, miraculously, these thousands of diverse human beings are all walking together under a blue sky towards an unknown outcome. Why.
Because that is AMERICA.
AMERICA means our military men & women stand ready and willing to hop that C-17 to God knows where or what, because they believe that this country and this way of life are WORTH THE RISK. You. Me. Our children. Millions of people these men & women will never set eyes on – we are worth it. Imagine believing in something with such conviction that you are willing to set aside what and who you hold most precious and say, “ME. I will go.”
Just a take a moment, please. Imagine squeezing the hand of the girl of your dreams – the woman you married, made a family with and fought through all the ups and downs with – the late nights & early mornings, long drives, unexpected changes, the fights, the firsts, the holidays, the plans, the losses, the unexpected bumps and the best days ever, imagine squeezing her hand one more time, kissing her one more time, looking into those eyes as familiar as your own – one. more. time. – Maybe a wink. Maybe a nod. “Be right back.” And then walking away with only the hope of coming back to her and all the promises you made to each other. What conviction would it take? What bravery? What strength?
TELL ME. Who among us can say we would take the risk?
You’re looking at them. On your newsfeeds and Facebook walls. Those faces you don’t know and never will. The eyes that are watching them walk away that you will never have to face. THEY walk boldly away from the dreams and opportunities the rest of us will continue to tuck safely under our pillows tonight with our prayers. THAT. IS. AMERICA. That is pride built on something more than the opinions, politics, politicians, or whatever social movement of the day is current. Without them, there are no causes, no opportunities, and no dreams to unfold.
Do you feel it yet? Do you feel the power in their choice to STAND and GO? I do. And it doesn’t make me sad. It makes me shake with pride and cry tears of gratitude that I can bear witness to such unbelievable selfless SERVICE and COURAGE. That I should be worthy of such bravery. That this country, so treacherously & hatefully divided, should be so unified by them. Do you feel it? Can you see it? THAT. IS. AMERICA.
HOPE. These stories and pictures shouldn’t inspire deeper disagreement or finger pointing or blame. They should inspire HOPE. That is what I feel when I see those pictures and find myself smiling at them – no matter the state of the country, the politics, or who sent them – THEY. GO. For us. For all of us. That kind of love and conviction should be celebrated & emulated. It should UNITE us. It should inspire us to make THEIR AMERICA a better place.
Take notice. Smile for them. Cry for them. Pray for them. Believe in them. Wait for them.