I Would Gladly Serve Again

Written By: Kim - Apr• 16•11

It was your typical day. Rising at o’dark thirty, getting ready for work and driving to the train station for my commute. I chatted with my train buddies on the platform before we boarded into our own world be it napping, reading, knitting or crossword puzzles. I scanned the headlines and tweeted them out via my iPad. I checked email so my box was empty when I arrived at the office. At the final stop, I waited by the door. I had been sitting for an hour and needed to stretch.

In the seat near me was an elderly gentlemen who reminded me of my Dad. A US Army hat on his head that looked like it was his favorite and pins that told me he served in the military — enlisted. I recognized the insignia of the rank because it was what my father wore when he was active duty: E8. I have a soft spot for veterans since I have fond memories of growing up a military brat. I simply could not ignore this man so I struck up a quick conversation. I am so glad I did.

© Lonnie Bradley via stock.xchang

Like my father, this retired vet had served twice in Vietnam. Unlike my father, it was before the situation there became precarious in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Both he and my Dad had something else in common: US Army career men. This man served 35 years; my Dad, 26. He was now living in the Old Soldiers Home, which is where my Dad said he wants to go when he can no longer live alone. He said the waiting list was a year long, but they had plenty of room for another soldier.

This gentleman, on his way to the hospital, remarked how it tore him up to see our young soldiers in the shape there were in when they were in treatment at Walter Reed Medical Center. This is where returning war vets recoup after being wounded on the battlefront. Battlefront, while an ancient term, is still accurate today no matter what medical advances we have made. These young men and women may survive mortar attacks, IEDs and gun shots to the neck or head, but they often come back never to return to the life they had. Their path is long, hard and heartbreaking.

Nothing will make you realize the sacrifice our troops make until you see someone young enough to be your child, confined to a wheelchair pushing himself around by blowing through a straw. If your eyes do not immediately tear up, check your pulse.

For those of you who did not grow up around the military, you can better believe that the people in it are not in it for the money nor benefits — especially the enlisted troops. They enlist and reenlist for various reasons. When we wrapped up our conversation as the train arrived, he said what many of us will not say once we retire: “I would gladly serve again.”

What an inspiration he was as is anyone who has served in the military. If you do not believe you will look back and say “I would gladly serve again” in your career path, why are you still in it?

 

 

 

Women Who Drive the Family Car and the Men Who Love Them

Written By: Kim - Mar• 13•11

I grew up in a traditional household. My Dad worked two — sometimes three — jobs when necessary so that my Mom could be a homemaker. She detested the word housewife. I wonder what she would think about all these reality shows and how these housewives are about as far removed from being a housewife as the pope.

My Dad did all the family driving when we were together. Mom would help on long road trips so he could rest, but for the most part, Dad was the primary driver. Everywhere. We were also, as far back as I can remember, a two-car family. Mom drove around town running errands, picking up sick kids from school and dropping us off at sports or band practices. A second car was as much of a necessity then as it is now in the suburbs.

Mom with our workhorse van, a 1981 Dodge Ram.

I am old-fashioned girl in some respects. If you are in a traditional relationship, then the man should drive the family car. He’s the head of the household; king of his kingdom, driver of his chariot.

We are also Catholic. Our church’s families run the gamut from traditional to, well, about as cutting-edge as you can be and still be Catholic. So, why are these wives driving the family to church? Dad sits right up front being chauffeured by his wife. Honestly, they never look happy. But, who drives the family car definitely makes a statement. It’s clearly states, “I am in charge.”

These families are also showing their children that just because Mom works inside the home doesn’t mean she can’t be in charge. They are showing their children that both Dad and Mom can be in a leadership role. They are telling their children that it’s ok to share power. This is certainly positive re-enforcement that teaches children valuable lessons.

That said, I am still a traditional wife. My husband drives us everywhere. He is head of the household, king of his kingdom and driver of his chariot.

I however am the navigator and perfectly content to be the passenger.