I am an American, fighting in the forces which guard my country and our way of life. I am prepared to give my life in their defense. I am not a terrorist, nor are my comrades.
Can I be sure? Like REALLY sure? Can you be sure the sun will rise tomorrow? REALLY sure? Be honest.
Today we received one of our “here’s how things will go” briefings on our immanent departure of Iraq. Two and a half hours of jokes and duplicate slides, all to say “drop your bags off at 0600 the day of travel…all else is subject to change.” All in all, a nice way to miss breakfast.
Every time you leave theater, be it for your rest and relaxation leave, or for redeployment back to the stats, they make you earn it.
From bag searches to customs officials to screenings to waiting in lines to stopping off in two or three different regions of the country, all of the paperwork processing and precautions make leaving the war one hell of a headache.
But that’s okay. Most of the time, troops are super psyched to be getting the hell out of here, so a few hours sweating outside of a processing center or in the belly of a bird, idling on the runway, ain’t no biggie.
What begins to chap my grass, however, is the amazing level of scrutiny our personal belongings are subjected to in order to leave–some of it warranted, but some of it just frustrating.
Do we need to make sure soldiers aren’t stealing any ammo, cultural treasures, other people’s stuff? Yes, definitely. Troops are thieving bastards, yes. Do it. Shake down. Dump everything out. We do it frequently.
But, do we need to ban iPods, laptops, CD players, toothpaste, deodorant, lotions, sunscreen and all the other recent airline taboos because of the “threat to airline travel”? You tell me.
How do you think it makes us, the uniformed service members of the United States, feel when we have to play all of these games? When we’re looked at as potential terrorists?
Every time I go through an airport in uniform and with orders and I’m selected for “special screening,” it just blows my mind. Take off my boots, my belt, empty out my pockets…Lord help me if I have a duffel bag.
And for all those out there with the “well…you never can be TOO careful” attitude–yes, you can be too careful, it’s called 1984. Remember that gem of a society?
How many attacks have occurred from uniformed service members?
It’s the same thing that got old over here where I had to show my ID card to eat, shop and enter half the buildings on post every day of the week. Why am I under so much suspicion? Are there clean-cut, uniformed, weapon-carrying, American-accented, pale-skinned, terrorists roaming through our camps?
Is there a test or a form I can mail in to certify myself? How many years do I need to spend in the desert before I’m certified “Soldier, defender of freedom”? Is there a fee that I overlooked?
Because if for all the years I am to spend in the crucible of war, if I can’t win any modicum of trust from the government or people to which I have pledged my life, then I fail to see the point in the War on Terror.
Or maybe, like the never ending war in 1984, we aren’t supposed to win. Maybe the war is meant to perpetuate itself forever. That way, we have profitable contracts and political levers to use against our enemies.
All this high-minded crap aside, can’t I just keep my toothpaste and my iPod? Twenty-plus hours of flying to get home from fighting in your war is a long time without music or funk-fighting lotions and gels. Damn AXE and their sweet-smelling toiletries!