Rangeviews, Oral, S.D.
After our younger son, Neil, served two tours in Iraq as an U.S. Army infantry officer, I wondered if he would have any lingering affects. As you might imagine I — his mom — have never heard the war stories. Those tales are reserved for his dad, also an infantry officer in the Army, and even more in depth the stories and memories are revisited with the men with whom Neil served. Most of what I know is what he wrote in emails and they didn’t involve much detail.
During his second tour his commanding officer was gone for a couple of weeks. Neil was the executive officer, second in command, so Neil was the acting commander. His first day on the job one of his soldiers was killed by an IED (what used to be called a booby-trap). Neil had the duty of writing to the parents and going through the soldier’s personal effects, jobs he did not take lightly. He can still tell you the date of that soldier’s death as it is ingrained in his mind.
Also during his second tour he had to go to Bagdad and testify in trials for crimes committed by Iraqis during his first tour. The trials were held at the palace and from the photos he sent, you could see it was indeed a very fancy place. It was where the staff lived and worked. Visitors like Neil were relegated to sleeping in tents outside the palace, tents that leaked when it rained, no less.
The one time I remember Neil referring to his experiences was during one of my trips to visit him and his family. We picked up the kids from school and they had a balloon in the backseat. Neil told them to be careful with it and not to pop it or, “We will take to the ditch quickly. Loud, sudden noises bring out my heightened awareness.”
That is a good way to put it.
I also have a heightened awareness and it involves so-called reality shows. In recent years the phenomenon has hit the airwaves. Every time I see an ad for one it makes me think of soldiers who are in harm’s way. They are living reality and they don’t need a staged TV show to magnify the soldiers’ problems, weariness of the battles and the unknowns that crop up daily. If TV producers want to have a true reality show, they should send the weepy civilians to one of the warzones and give them something to cry about. It is unlikely the TV performers would have the courage to do something that is truly dangerous.
Calling these “reality shows” is an insult to our individuals in uniform. The biggest danger the TV participants might face is getting bit by a scorpion or a sunburn. They are not running over IEDs and possibly being blown up or being shot at. Those scenarios are real life reality shows and we need to remember and pray those in uniform as they face real dangers.
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