Friday, August 01, 2008

Responses to my Newsgram

A couple of days ago, I sent out a note to a lot of our friends.  I wanted to let people know about my upcoming year in Iraq.  The responses have been supportive, surprising, and extremely moving.  I won't share the specific comments here, but will talk about the generalities.

First, every single response was supportive.  I had expected a few to say something like "you dumbshit!", but nobody did.  All were encouraging, saying in many different ways that they stood behind me.  

There were a few surprises, too.  A couple of old friends forwarded my note to other old friends that I hadn't seen nor heard from in, oh, twenty years.  So, out of the blue, came notes from these wonderful people.  It was great to re-establish contact with them again.  

And there were some very deeply thought, strongly felt notes as well.  One of them, an old Navy buddy, was greatly affected by my "Meditation on War" paintings, particularly Lament and Warrior.  His daughter's fiance was killed in combat some time ago and they still mourn his loss.  My paintings touched a very tender nerve.  Maybe "touched" isn't the right word ... from his comments,  they were more like a kick in the gut, an unexpected confrontation with an unhealed wound.  Another friend, who has never been associated with the military, is extremely stressed over my going into a dangerous situation.  Although I tried, it's difficult for me to address that sort of concern.  Iraq is dangerous, but the International Zone (aka "Green Zone") is reasonably safe, and I'm not going into a combat role.  As prior military people know, you weigh your options, assess the danger, and take the best precautions you can.  Not a big deal ... to me, anyway.  But it seems to be hard for non-military people to understand why military members (and even a few retirees like me) do what we do ... and just as hard for us to understand the concern of our non-military friends.  All we can do is try to reach across the gap.  Which this friend did so well.  I hope my response was up to the task.

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