Thursday, February 12, 2009

Off to War

Today I was going to post some cute kid stories but then something happened this morning that affected me much more than I expected.

I work at the Veteran's Memorial Community Center in Inver Grove Heights but more specifically, The Grove. I have to be there to open my end of the building at 5am for members to use the fitness equipment, pools and track. This community center, as typical, also houses a National Guard facility.

Just this morning, the 34th Red Bull Infantry division was deployed to Iraq. The ceremony was held around 7:30am and the 7 buses carrying the soldiers pulled out of the parking lot around 8:30am. I watched from my desk as friends and families and members of The Grove, virtual strangers to these men and women, waved goodbye from the grass under The Stars and Stripes.

I knew this day was coming since several of the members of the National Guard are also members of The Grove and have cancelled their memberships due to their deployment. When one would mention their upcoming tour I never knew if I should express sympathy or pride or gratitude, so instead, I matched their stoicism and acted as if it were no big deal.

Even though I have had friends and family of my own (currently a distant cousin and a pseudo cousin-in-law) endure long front-line tours in Iraq and I have prayed for (and worried about) their strength of mind and body and definitely for their safety, their service just never seemed to affect me so deeply. I don't know if it has been ignorance or apathy. Perhaps a mixture of both with a bit of narcissism mixed in to be honest.

So today, as I tearfully watched their departure from behind my desk, I committed to praying for these soldiers who are fighting for our freedom and our safety. I committed to learning more about their mission specifically and the possibility of correspondence. That is so hard to put in black and white because it means that I actually have to do something besides hide in my own little world doing my own little thing. I have to attempt to reach out beyond myself which is not an easy thing for this shy introvert. I read a blog post today that caused me to think about stepping out of my comfort zone. I wish I could remember what it was but it was good.

And then knowing knowing these men and women would miss their spouses, children, parents, friends and Christmas this year broke my heart.

I wish that I could wrap this post up neatly but the truth is that it is just the beginning. I don't want to forget about my commitment so I'll start here. Feel free to check it out and please pray for these soldiers on the other side of the world.

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