Wednesday, November 11, 2015
Today I am grateful for veterans. I appreciate all veterans going back to the American Revolution, which started the growth or our nation. But today I will address veterans before the age of instant communication and technology.
One particularly sad and lonely day when we lived in Jakarta, Indonesia, I said to my husband, “I feel like we are in the military and have been assigned to this hot, humid, stinky place where no one understands a word we say.” Then I got over myself and realized that our service people overseas probably felt exactly that way. Without the comforts I had in my big marble palace, even though it sometimes felt like a prison.
The first year in Jakarta I wrote letters. . .actual snail-mail letters. If anyone wrote to me it took a full month for me to get it. The second year we got a fax machine and although it cost plenty to fax, I typed with small margins and only sent one or two pages at a time, often to more than one person, then asked the receiver to spread them around. By the third year we had email. I think someone had to hold wires together on the roof, but most of the time it worked. Email made life much less lonely.
Now our military can “skype”, actually visiting with their loved ones and see their children grow, if only on a screen. Does that make it better or worse for them? I hope better, but sometimes it must be hard to disconnect. . .as you must when you are living in a war zone. Living in two places can be dangerous in a war zone. But whatever your circumstances, you have to live where you are, no matter how strange the location. If you don’t, you’re not living at all.
Back in WWII, when my dad was overseas he would send my mom V-mail, which was a letter written and folded into its own envelope. News he would get from home would be a month old by the time he received it, just like it was for me in Jakarta. There were no phone calls. There was no fax machine. And the only time he saw loved ones was when he pulled tiny pictures out of his wallet.
No matter which branch of the military our sons and daughters are in. . .and no matter which decade they’ve served. . .no matter if they were drafted or enlisted. . .and even if they have all the technology available. . .it is never easy to be away from home. We all owe them a huge debt of gratitude. I’ll go first! Thank you!