Before now poetry has taken notice
Of wars, and what are wars but politics
Transformed from chronic to acute and bloody?
from "Build Soil"
Robert Frost

Monday, August 20, 2007

The End Times

We're living in them. No, not those end times... I don't know anything about those.
Our time here will soon be up, as I've mentioned. It doesn't seem that way; no matter how much gear I pack up and turn in, this desert still feels normal, still feels like home. A year doesn't seem that long- twelve months, less than five percent of my life to date- but I barely recall what "normal" life is like. It feels so distant to me now that it might as well be a second lifetime, an earlier incarnation of myself. Leave wasn't that long ago, of course, but that was only two weeks, lived under the specter of impending return.

Before I left for Iraq, before I even boarded the plane that would take me to my pre-deployment training, I worried that my friends would leave me behind. I thought it might be a little like excusing one's self from a party, coming back minutes later to find the party a year gone and the merrymakers scattered. That mind picture skirted the truth, but as usual, analogy is suspect. When I left, most of my friends were in college. Now, most have indeed graduated and scattered- they range in domicile from Austria to China and many places in between. The difference is the time- rather than a year for them and seeming minutes for me, a year has passed for my friends. A lifetime has passed for me.

It seems like it's been forever since I lived that "normal" life- the normalcy that I know I'll never quite grasp again. Paradoxically, the last year blends and runs together into one long, blurred day. It doesn't feel like a year- it feels longer and shorter all at the same time. I want to leave, to go home, to take things for granted again. I also can't stand the thought of leaving now, of turning my back on so many things left undone.


  1. Only in response to one part of this... As I scattered to Texas I thought the same thing, but in the end, if we're really friends, we'll stay in touch. We'll always care, we'll always respond. I know that we could never understand that lifetime that has past for you, all we can do is be greatful you're back, and welcome you home. So, let me be the first to say: Welcome back buddy. We've missed you.

  2. Anonymous20/8/07 15:44

    Its funny, even for those who never join the military change is fast and furious. Even if your in a big corporation you can expect the world to uproot you, reorg you and change your profession every 2-3 years to the point its like starting all over again. Try to look at coming home that way and well, its not a perfect plan to deal with change but its a realistic perspective.

  3. Coming back to the US is hard, no matter where you were. Just as long as you expect everything to be different, and expect disorientation for a while, the adjustment is easier.

  4. in some ways your life will never be the same, but the world is better for your having been there td.

    smiles, bee

  5. Wow TD, this is a very profound post, such a young man and you have learned to look at the world and sees reality. The truth is, things will never be the same for you, you have faced your duty and served your country proudly. I can only speak from my experience, I did my turn in 1968 and 1969, I have forever been proud of what I did, I stood the post when I was called, you have done the same, you too will forever be proud. You have made friends, people who had your back, you will never forget them, and they will never forget you.

    Those other folks, they are part of your old life, acquaintances, who will not understand where you have been and what you have done. They will smile, welcome you home and go on with their lives, folks like me will forever be thankful for the price you paid for the rest of us.

    You are now an official short timer TD, it is a tradition for a warrior, you have done your time, you have kept the faith, you have paid the price, come on back home and enjoy the rest of your life, you earned that.

  6. Anonymous20/8/07 19:58

    "...can't stand the thought of leaving now, of turning my back on so many things left undone."

    Why does this not surprise me? You went in to make a've seen the fruits of your want to keep going.

    TD, in one year you have done more to advance the cause of freedom and justice than most will ever do in their lifetimes.

    It is an awe-inspiring thing. Well done.

  7. You will certainly be deeper and richer for having done this, TD.

    Some things you used to do and love will seem trivial when you come back from Iraq. But it's probably a good thing...

    How much longer are you there?

  8. Anonymous21/8/07 07:09

    TD, I doubt you will ever take anything for granted, but you will meet people that do, people that are barely aware of the war in Iraq and Afghanistan. Don't sweat 'em. You've made a big difference, in Iraq, and at home. In both you've been there for us. With your brothers and sisters in arms you have a bond that can never be broken, and you will be leaving nothing undone, you will just be passing the flag on with honor. I would like to extend a personal invite, ( and I think I can speak for every state ), you are always welcome in the Patriot Guard Riders, anytime, anywhere. But first, when you get back, have a great time enjoying that great family of yours! I think we all expect great things from you in the future(hey, no pressure : )

  9. Trackbacked by The Thunder Run - Web Reconnaissance for 08/21/2007
    A short recon of what’s out there that might draw your attention, updated throughout the check back often.

  10. You will never be the same and your friends will be different. Expect that, it will help. BUT, there will be new interests and new friends as well.

  11. TD-

    Nobody can to it all and you have done more than your fair share. Thanks for serving and standing between those of us at home and those who aim to destroy our way of life. We owe you in ways that we cannot repay. Best wishes.

  12. you are on the threshold to the next part of your life....and what you have accomplished and experienced there will always be part of who you are.

  13. Anonymous21/8/07 20:00

    I can relate from my Navy years. Friends are still friends but not ever quite the same. I reckon you'll find yourself feeling a new affinity for folks who've been off adventuring in a cause bigger than themselves and the responsibilities of daily life -- particularly Vets.

    You'll find new meaning in how Bilbo felt upon his return to the Shire. How he related to others and how others related to him had changed.

  14. I' m not American, I' m Italian, but I really appreciate what you' re doing in there, for all of us. I hope that one day the job in Iraq will be done. I' m about your age, and I think you should be proud of your work.

  15. Anonymous22/8/07 06:48

    TD...stand proud! You stepped forward when called and did your part. You should be proud of what you've accomplished. You have grown in ways your friends have not; expect differences, but don't sweat them. Good friends will always remain good friends. If they're truly good friends, they'll recognize your growth and the changes your service has made and appreciate it. You're a talented young man with a wonderful future ahead of you. Live it! Wishing you all the best...

  16. That "can't stand" is literally true for many, and hence the high re-upping rates. If things continue on a turnaround tracking, it might be that the PRT side, what Thomas Barnett calls "The Department of Everything Else" (all the real action which occurs in the massive gap between hard military effort and the courtly dances of diplomacy) takes on major long-term importance. You might give some mind to that.

  17. Anonymous22/8/07 10:04

    The difference is, you grew up. Be proud. We are certainly proud of you. Now, don't get careless. You are still in a war zone and still need to make it home safe.

  18. All things come to and end, something which seem specially true for great milblogs.

    I hope you find home.

  19. I work on Ft. Hood, and see guys every day in my classes who have been over there, and some who are going back a second or third time. I'm so proud of the courage that I see in you guys. You'll always be the best. No country has better. Always be proud of it.

  20. I miss you and I'm glad you're coming back... Jenna is getting bigger and she'll be glad to have another "uncle" around.

  21. Anonymous29/8/07 10:30

    So excited you're coming home. If you need a quiet place to regroup, give us a call. You are always welcome. We are so proud of you and the ones that you serve with.
    Love, Mama Lois

  22. To all who have served in each of the present wars - my hat is off to you. My wars were different (Korea & Vietnam) in that we basically knew who we were fighting.
    Stand proud for all you have done and may God keep you safe. You have earned it.
    Dan E. Scott - TSgt (Ret) 1946-1968