Happy 4th to all

It’s the 4th of July and you know what that means:  Twilight Zone Marathon on SciFi channel!  Because nothing says I Love America! like back-to-back shows with pervasive 1950’s themes like escaping nuclear holocaust, or astronauts returning to earth only to discover that war has wiped out humanity.  That’s what I’m talkin’ about.

Seriously though, this celebration of our nation’s birth seems like an appropriate time to update everyone on how Ken’s son Danny is faring during this, his 3rd tour of duty in Iraq.  Danny didn’t join the military specifically because he loves his country so much.  Like the majority of soldiers serving in this war, most joined to take advantage of the promises made to them during the recruitment phase:  Money for college, a chance to learn a skill (however unmarketable those skills turn out to be in the civilian world), pride in a job well done.  Danny joined the Marines in 1996, well before 9/11, because his life needed some direction and because he’s a tough motherfucker.  You have to be tough to be a Marine, no doubt about it. 

Danny did two back-to-back, 6 month tours in 2005-2006 at Al Asad Airfield in Western Iraq.  During that particular tour he worked in supply, which was a relatively safe position, although that was little consolation for his loved ones back home.  Danny’s wife was also stationed in Iraq during part of that time so they had each other, a real plus for a Marine couple (if you can call being stationed in the same war zone a plus for any marriage).   Much to our relief (and specifically, his father’s), they both returned home safely in the spring of 2006 and spent a month visiting friends and relatives around the country.  Six months later, in August of 2006, Danny’s wife was redeployed for another 6-month stint in Ramadi.  Then Danny received the news that his 3rd deployment would start one month after her return back to the states in February of this year. But this time he would be riding in a convoy every day.  In Al Anbar province.  A much more dangerous assignment and a greater source of worry for those of us back home.  Danny’s a tough motherfucker alright, but was he tough enough for IED’s and RPG’s? 

This has also been a rocky year for Danny’s marriage, as it is for so many marriages affected by separation and stress.  Just a guess here, but I imagine a marriage between two intensely driven Marines is probably hard enough during peacetime, but this war and the constant deployments tore theirs apart.  Shortly after his deployment last March Danny received a Dear John email from his wife, and the question became:  Was Danny tough enough to deal with threats to his emotional health, in addition to the threats to his life?   Yeah, Danny’s a tough motherfucker, but is he tough enough for this? 

Danny’s doing well, I’m glad to report. me_hot.jpg His buddies have helped him gain some perspective on the situation and he’s set some very healthy goals for himself to complete after he returns in September.  He’ll be training to be a Drill Instructor, which will ensure a stateside assignmment for 3 years.  He’s going to buy his brother’s Jeep.  He’s planning on buying a house.  He’s looking ahead.  That’s what tough motherfuckers do.  They change course when obstacles are thrown in front of them.

Danny calls his dad frequently, but sometimes Ken’s not here and I get to talk to him. 

How’s it going over there?
Great.  We’re doing a lot of good things here.  Things you don’t hear about on the news.  We’re rebuilding shit and it looks real nice.   The people are happy we’re here.
Are you staying safe?
Oh definitely. It’s not so bad really.

That’s how our conversations go.  The conversations Danny has with his dad are different; they’re man-to-man conversations about the scary shit:  About the insurgents his unit killed that day.  The body parts he saw.  The vehicles they “fired up.”  Things you don’t tell the women folk back home.  Things a gentleman Marine doesn’t discuss with a lady.  This is touching to me.

Every day is a source of anxiety and concern for us, but mainly for Ken.  Having a child in harm’s way every day is an exercise in faith that your child will be spared the worst.  We don’t like this war and we want all of our soldiers home, now.  It’s not something we discuss with Danny and I have no idea how he feels about this war.  It doesn’t matter – he has a job to do and that’s what he’s going to do.  He’s a tough motherfucker and we’re proud of him. 

Happy 4th of July, Danny.


12 Responses to “Happy 4th to all”

  1. 1 Grace July 3, 2007 at 9:04 pm

    (((( O.B. )))) I’m sure you know by now how I feel about this war…and it’s for brave young men like Danny and his family – all of you – that I’m such a loudmouth about it.

    I pray for his continued safety and wellbeing, and that he’ll be able to come home soon. Perhaps with some help he can get his marriage back on track and have a good life here.

    Happy 4th 🙂 and thanks for your support (wow, I just heard a Bartles and James commercial in my head! LOL)

  2. 2 poseidonsmuse July 3, 2007 at 9:28 pm

    I’m at a loss for words. Sincerely. It is rather bittersweet – “celebrating” 4th July when your loved ones are stationed overseas – fighting such a controversial war. Regardless of the politics, I pray for the safe return of Danny, his wife and all the courageous men and women that put their lives on the line each and everyday. And, as you say, Danny is definitely one tough “motherfucker.” Strength to you, Ken and your families. Hugs.

  3. 3 Simonne July 3, 2007 at 10:01 pm

    This made me cry. Much love to you all.

  4. 4 Deb July 3, 2007 at 10:21 pm

    I can’t imagine what it would be like to live with the fear and stress of having a loved one in such a dangerous situation. My best to you and your family.

    I’m spending my 4th volunteering for the day at a chicken sanctuary, which in some ways is probably quite a bit like spending the day watching sci fi movies. But, you know, it seems appropriate. Independence Day. Celebrating with liberated chickens. It fits, it really does!

    Happy 4th everyone.

  5. 5 observantbystander July 4, 2007 at 6:49 am

    Grace/PM/Sx/Deb: Thanks for your kind words. Grace, I’m right there with you, girl, regarding this stupid, illegal, immoral war. This administration will go down in history as the worst of all time (lies and the lying liars who tell them).

    The marriage is in the paper-signing stage and they are going their separate ways now. Everything turns out the way it’s supposed to in the end.

    Deb – I can’t think of a better way to spend the 4th than at a chicken sanctuary (OK, what’s a chicken sanctuary?), except maybe swilling mojitos at my parent’s house which is where I’ll be later…

    Ken has a great faith in God. The grace he displays right now is awe inspiring. I’d be a crying/jittering mess if it were my son, but Ken sails serenely through most days. He’s amazing.

    Happy 4th, my dear cyber-friends, and thanks for your support!(brings wine cooler to mouth and drinks lustily)

  6. 6 writerchick July 4, 2007 at 10:57 am

    Hey Karen,
    Wow, that has to be so hard on you guys. It made me tear up just thinking how much it must weigh on your family.

    Bless Danny a thousand times for being such a tough motherfucker. My hat’s off to him and his fellow marines.

    Many prayers to him and to you and Ken, waiting at home for his safe return.

    Happy Fourth, hon.


  7. 7 Deb July 5, 2007 at 6:25 am

    mmm….mojitos. There’s a bar in town that does awesome mojitos…

    A chicken sanctuary is a place where chickens who have been saved/rescued from various situations (chicken farms, hatching projects, science experiments, rooster fights, etc) get to live out their lives in peace. There are some rescued ducks as well, and cats and dogs too. (Everyone in the area brings any dog or cat in need to her, because hey, she rescues chickens, so surely she’d rescue cats and dogs too! and they’re right, of course.)

    mojitos vs helping at the chicken sanctuary. a tough call! :p

    I hope everyone had a nice 4th! My cat wasn’t fond of the fireworks, but she wasn’t too stressed either.

    Thinking of the 4th and the fireworks, I’m reminded of something I heard when I went to a talk by an author, charlie hardy, who wrote “cowboy in caracas.” He was talking about the difference between the venezuelan anthem and the US anthem, and how ours really glorified war. I somehow, despite myself, hadn’t thought about that. Fireworks have long been a source of secondary stress to me (stresses the animals, stresses me that I can’t “fix” that for them), and last night thinking about what charlie hardy said made me realize how smart these frightened animals are. The fireworks are supposed to sound like rockets and bombs after all, and my cat finding the safest place she can imagine to hide is actually an intelligent reaction to the simulated war sounds!

  8. 8 observantbystander July 5, 2007 at 9:23 am

    WC: Thanks for the hugs. Hope everyone had a great 4th.

    Deb: My poor little dog will be so happy when the fireworks are all finally shot off. This has been a very stressful week for him, too. I was thinking about the fireworks sounding like bombs last night also.

    PS: An email from Danny yesterday was about the every-encroaching insurgency and their efforts to fight them. It’s getting bad out there again folks…

  9. 9 V- July 5, 2007 at 10:48 am

    I’m sorry to hear about the re-vamped insurgency. I can’t even imagine. Danny will continue to be in my prayers and thoughts. Fuck Bush and his stupid war.

    On lighter note, Troy and I got a real kick out of the Chicken Sanctuary comment. (we are weird like that) I think it will become a phrase we will throw out in random conversations for many years to come. 🙂

  10. 10 observantbystander July 5, 2007 at 6:38 pm

    Deb – I didn’t tell you that I think it’s a really cool thing that you volunteer at the animal sanctuary. Is that where Melvin lives? However, the words Chicken Sanctuary have a slightly giddy sound to them, don’t they? I love it!

  11. 11 Laurie Anne July 8, 2007 at 8:23 pm

    Wow. This post gave me a lot to think about….

  1. 1 Let’s do some updating, shall we? « Observant Bystander Trackback on October 2, 2007 at 7:24 pm

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