Here I am frantically typing in the Incheon Airport outside of Seoul, South Korea. I am waiting for my next flight in about an hour from now. Next stop is Narita Airport, the international airport that services Tokyo. My travels will take me through there on the way home to Virginia for Thanksgiving. My travels begin again in the beginning of December.
I am working a program within the Department of Defense, my employer, that is taking me to the hotspots in the world where American Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines are standing guard 24 hours a day so that we can enjoy the benefits of freedom and liberty. My first two trips have been humbling and eye-opening. Now, for those of you that never look at the “about me” page of this blog, I am more than the sum of the survivor parts which normally find a release in this blog. I was an active duty Naval Officer for almost 24 years. My family sacrificed a great deal for me over the years. Cross country moves were followed by transoceanic moves and return moves and long deployments. They also endured my temporary radio silence in the aftermath of the terrorist attack at the Pentagon on 9/11/2001 (the radio silence was due to the system overloading with the events unfolding in New York; Arlington, Virginia and a field in southwestern Pennsylvania). It took me several hours to tell them that I was OK and that the part of the Pentagon where I was briefing that morning was 100 yards away from the impact location. My wife and sons also saw me off on a short notice combat assignment in 2003 at the beginning of Operation Iraqi Freedom. I had about a week’s warning before reporting to Fort Benning (not the typical Navy processing point) and on to Kuwait in order to meet my team.
This past week I was getting re-acquainted with the sacrifices and challenges that America’s sons and daughters in uniform endure so we can go about our lives in relative peace and quiet. The kids in Korea (I will call them kids because more of the Soldiers, Sailors and Airmen I spoke with were about 19 or 20) are ready and able to do what is necessary now. As the Commanding General of the 2nd Infantry Division told us, they are “ready to fight, tonight”.
Not my usual fare, I know. Please forgive me. Instead of worrying about how much time Father Timchak was getting in his sentence or pondering the reasons that organizations like SNAP are focused on changing the church and not making their primary mission supporting survivors and working legal remedies and legislative changes, I was spending my week with heroes. It was truly a humbling experience.
I will get back to all that soon enough. For now, as we are facing down the holidays, I have a request. If you are traveling and see a young man or woman in the uniform of your country, take a minute to thank them. No really, just stick your hand out and say “thank you for your service”. It isn’t hard and believe me, they will appreciate it. If you have never worn that uniform, you may be surprised by the responsibility placed on those young shoulders in those digitized camouflage uniforms. America’s greatest treasure is her sons and daughters, we all need to be reminded of that.
That’s it for now. I have a plane to catch.