This morning went by as per usual. PT came and went, then on to showers at the gym. Breakfast was taken at the local dining facility.

Formation was at 0900, where we were given the orders for the day. A safe had to be moved somewhere–someone was working on finding a truck. Supplies needed to be carted to the new brigade building–someone was working on finding the key to the room. And the barracks needed to be swept and mopped–supplies to be procured from locked supply room once key was tracked down.

Meaning the lot of us took our usual spots along the grass and curbs, waiting in the calming, autumn weather for someone to do something. I went inside the unit building to find the computer tech sergeant to heckle through some password/access issue that had sprung up.

The sun was up, above the adjacent building and pouring into the glass doors of the building’s front. The computer sergeant was pulling staff duty, manning a desk at the entrance to the place, ready to head off any issues, fights, fires or other situation that might arise through the day.

It’s a military thing to have a building staffed, much like a office receptionist might situate him or herself at the gaping maw of “the public,” save for the fact that our military counterparts are usually on hand for damage-control purposes–finding people and/or security measures and the like.

I was standing there, in line with several majors who took it upon themselves to assume positions in front of me. Not a problem, I had nothing but time until keys and trucks were found, and I’m sure the majors were needed in some PowerPoint capacity somewhere else. I just stood and watched the morning grow.

In the field next to the adjacent building were familiar stacks of duffel bags. Sort of like the ones made–yup, there were buses too, and families. A little father west was a formation of desert-uniformed troops, weapons slung, receiving instructions as families looked on.

Time to go for some group of Joes. Poor bastards. I’m sure someone looked at our formation a year ago and thought the same things–some of them probably recently returned–hell, some of them maybe out there now. We have a way of coming and going in cycles. One shift on, the other off–like some factory positions–or like the emperor penguins, taking turns on the outside of the circle, enduring the cold, keeping others warm.

It’s hard to enjoy the warmth and safety when you know there are others getting ready to face the cold reality of hate and conflict. Then again, I suppose it’s more of a crime not to enjoy it. If we spend all of our time in the states feeling guilty that others aren’t here, then what’s the point of defending anything? What’s the point of ever leaving the war-zone?

I have friends all the time who say things like, “Well, I feel guilty that I was just back here hanging out and drinking beer.” Maybe not those exact words, but genuine concern that their “ordinary” lives were somehow not as important or even detracting from the overall struggle.

I try to always tell them that I’m glad they were here–that I hope they had the easiest year of their lives. Not to gain any sort of martyrdom points, but to try to express genuine thankfulness that somewhere, someone was enjoying something in a place made safer by the efforts of others.

It’s like taking a fresh-baked pie and letting it spoil because someone couldn’t come to dinner. Ack! There went the pie! Eat it, enjoy it.

So as those cats were piling on the buses and the families were all saying goodbye, I said a little prayer for them and went back to my day in the states, worrying about little else than safes and supplies.

It’s how I would want it, were I just leaving for Iraq, and I think it’s how they would feel to, given the chance to say so.


About salemonz

Born in San Diego, Calif. Raised as a Navy Brat, I jumped ship and crossed over to the Army. Served as an enlisted journalist for a bunch of years, then helped the DoD figure out what the hell to do with social media. After the Army, now I drift down the river of life, trying not to be a jerk.

4 responses to “Cycles”

  1. wilsonian says :

    “I just stood and watched the morning grow.”

    This is the loveliest line I’ve read in ages.

  2. Pam Salmons,Sr says :

    Yes, another big “way to go” from a fan…Keep writing and keeping us honest…Mom

  3. FTM29 says :

    I get the same comments from people about myself and my “sacrafices.” The ones who have not been here want to hear war stories. I don’t talk about that with them. That is private between those of us who have been here. I’ll tell them is was hot or that I slept in a tent, ate MREs, and dealt with a lot of Iraqis-Kuwaitis, etc. I too am glad that some else does not have to go because I did. I wnat to make sure that my son never has to come over here and finish what we started. That is part of the reason why I stay and keep plugging along. My son will have his own war some day, every generation does. He may fight in North Korea, Senegal, Namibia, Nicaragua or even Alaska but I just don’t want him to have to be here. This is my fight.

  4. salmons says :

    Carful with the “This is my fight” rhetoric, FTM. Military guys may take a bit of umbrage.

    I know that’s not your intent, but it’s a sensitive issue with us.

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