Tuesday, November 09, 2004

Things We Take For Granted

Waking up in the middle of the night in a warm house in the winter to get a glass of cold water from the refrigerator.

Stepping into a hot shower and staying as long as we want or until the hot water runs out -- whichever comes first.

Jumping in the car/truck/jeep just to scoot down the road, to get away, maybe enjoy the turning of the Autumn leaves.

Punching in a number to call a friend.

Staying cool when it's hot, warm when it's cold, dry when it's wet.

Fast food, fine dining.

Pizza. Delivery or frozen.

He hardly has a free minute of time and when he does there's not a lot to do with it. But sleep. Sleep beautiful sleep. Napoleon supposedly said that he would not give up the luxury of a bed for the highest throne. Ditto.

He is abroad, thousands of miles from home, from loved ones, from comfort. He wonders if he might never see home again, might never hold her again, but he doesn't dwell on it. He has to stay focused.

Which is not a difficult thing for him to do. Not in this hostile place where he does his work.

As he laces up his boots in the dark, he wonders if Auburn's for real this year. Seems like it. Undefeated so far. It's 0400 hours. Stand to. Long day ahead. Long, long day. And probably a long night. He's operated on less than 4 hours of sleep per night for the last 90 days. Probably no sleep tonight.

He can hear his platoon sergeant outside the tent talking over the diesel engines. The ammo truck is outside and a detail is offloading crates.

He snaps the chinstrap of his Kevlar helmet, velcros his Kevlar vest, buckles his load-bearing equipment, picks up his M-16 and works the action. He cleaned it before he went to sleep. The condom is securely over the muzzle. It keeps the sand and dust out. The sand gets into everything. Hair, eyes, ears, nose, mouth, uniform. Clean uniforms last about 15 minutes before they get that stiff crunchy feel.

He walks outside the tent. His platoon sergeant is checking ammo crates as the detail breaks them open. Soon everyone will be issued a full load of ammo. He checks his ammo pouches to make sure he has all his magazines.

The artillery explosions have been going non-stop. He wonders how he ever learned to sleep through it. He remembers when he once thought it impossible to do so. Artillery is a beautiful thing, though. Burn 'em down, he thinks. Burn as many of 'em down as you can.

In the distance he sees a steady stream of fire pouring down (it seems from the clouds), as AC-130s work over their targets. This is followed by secondary explosions on the ground that light up the sky. Then there's a single brilliant flash and a tremendous explosion. It's either a B-52 arclight or a JDAM hitting home. He can hear the distinct sound of Apache helicopters, but can't see them. It's Dante's inferno up there! Is this what his Dad meant when he said beneath the midnight sun they had walked the edge of hell?



The Colonel talked to the battalion yesterday and said the battalion was gonna start at one end of the city and fight through until it gets to the other end. He feels a little less confident than the Colonel sounded, but he's ready. The platoon is squared away and well-led.

His platoon sergeant is grinning at something one of the squad leaders just said. Everyone is going about final preparations. Finishing up their MRE breakfast.

The artillery and rocket strikes are intensifying. The AC-130s departed at first light. They're easy targets during the day. Air strikes are still going in. F-16s and A-10s and the Apaches, of course.

The platoon sergeant raises his right hand over his head and makes a circling motion. Time to load up.

He climbs into the Bradley with his crew. Everyone is quiet. No chatter today.

She's probably getting off work about now.

The Bradley bucks forward, accelerates.

North to Fallujah.


The Anchoress said...

Nice, Monk...I liked to it! :-)

Anonymous said...

I followed the link from The Anchoress.

Thank God for the bravery of our soldiers and marines. We are so proud of them.

God bless our troops. God Bless America.

I'll be back, Monk.

Matteo said...

Nice! I also followed the Anchoress here and have linked to this.


Anonymous said...

and he's going up that road to fallujah for what???? to die for wmd that was never there? to die so halliburton can increase its profits? to die so red america can feel vindicated for voting that buffoon we have as el prezidente back into office for 4 more years? oh i forgot you're one of those red state rednecks who thinks my country right or wrong no matter how wrong we are. you probably drive a pickup truck complete with gunrack and a little yellow ribbon right above the bumper sticker of a confederate flag. ain't it all grand. see our boys die for dubya. we support our troops. ain't we so proud. praise jesus, look at them boys die fer the stars and bars. ain't red america great. don't them flag-draped coffins look so purdy. well, just remember as you wave your blood-soaked stars and bars that that blood includes the blood of over 100,000 innocent people in iraq alone. red america, indeed.

The Anchoress said...

He's going up to Fallujah not 'to die for WMD that weren't there' but to help the people of Iraq create a stable democracy. In the simplest language in the world, let's see if you can get this: A stable, democratic Iraq (with a stable democratic Iran right behind it) gets to enter the marketplace of both ideas and goods. They get to come into the 21st century. Their coming into the marketplace will bring about diplomatic gains that cannot be made right now, because the economic equation will enter into it.

He's going up to Fallujah, so that when you are dead and gone, your children will not have to worry about being blown out of a skyscraper, or suffocated on a subway. You can thank him now, or later. Now is better.

MerryMadMonk said...

He's going up that road for .. all of us, for the United States of America. He's going up that road to give the Iraqis a chance to live in freedom. He's going up that road to confront evil, to turn it back, to say no .. not here. He's going up that road because it's a circled objective on a military map. He's going up that road to kick ass.

He doesn't intend to die. He intends to make the terrorists die.

He may die. If he does, then Michael Moore and you can try to desecrate his memory as you have tried to desecrate his honor.

He may die. If he does, I will mourn his loss. I will honor him in death as I honor him in life.

As to your comments directed at the South and at me. You don't know me and I seriously doubt you know anything about the South, except for what you've seen coming out of Hollywood or read in the New York Times.

I believe I know a little more than you about flag-draped coffins. I have saluted them. I have carried them. I have lifted the flags from them, carefully folded the flags and handed them to young widows and mothers and fathers. I will never hear Taps without remembering the tears. I will never see another folded flag without seeing their faces as I told them, "On behalf of a grateful nation . . ."

You are to be pitied for you believe in nothing greater than your own self-interest. You have "decided neither nobility nor grace nor love exist in this world".

MerryMadMonk said...

Thanks to The Anchoress for linking. I'm honored.

Thanks to her readers for visiting with The Monk.

MerryMadMonk said...

btw, I do drive a pickup truck ... a RED one!


Matteo said...

Anonymous lefty: So, we've killed 100,000 over there, eh? Have you read any critiques of how that figure was cooked up? If someone else with an axe to grind turns around and says we killed 3 million over there would you start spouting that figure, too? Heck, I think I saw over on Kos's website or on DU or somewhere like that that we killed 24 million over there, and 16 million in Afghanistan.

Anonymous said...

I'm a naturalized American and grateful for all those men and women I've never met that protect us. The South -- the people I've met in Alabama and Mississipi were wonderful. Living in a blue county here in California, all too often I encounter hypocrites like the poster above. They claim to be pacifists, compassionate, etc. but all you get is arrogance and condescencion if you don't agree with them.

Merry Mad Monk, thank you for sharing your musings!