Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Day -8 Dad's Last Post

This will be last entry into the Blog 365 Days. I have picked today as kind of a symbolic day. 21 years ago today I was an intelligence officer sitting in an Ops center in Berlin Germany as reports filtered in that people were crossing the border into West Berlin. Unbelievably it was true and my team and I monitored the situation through out the night responding to every situation to ensure the safety of the East German populace. That was my time in the sun if you will, I received accolades for the work done that night. It all seems so small compared to what Zach has endured over the last year, and what we as a family have endured. I am so thankful that Zach made it through with no physical harm, now comes the work to reintegrate him mentally into society.

My heart is heavy for the loss that so many suffered, for the men and women in Zach’s unit who lost friends and saw such incredible devastation. War is not pretty it is not a game, but it is a struggle for all involved – soldiers and families! But we as a nation should be proud that men and women are willing to answer the call, stand to post and say “not on my watch, not today, sleep well America because I am at the ready”! Duty, honor and country are not just words but part of the creed of what it is to be a soldier, marine, airman or seaman, a way of life that they accepted and signed up for. Thank you to all of them and thank you to you Zach! You are our little boy even today, even as you speak of the horror of war, you are our little boy, the boy who collected leeches in the pond, the boy running the base paths during a little league game and the little boy who went to pee in the closet as we remodeled our home.

So yes 21 years after the fall of the Berlin Wall Zach was actually born after the fall of the wall that marked the end of soviet and communist rule over eastern Europe, I will conclude my writing in the blog. Our son has returned from defending others against oppression, from trying to make the world a safer place. On this anniversary of the fall of the wall, and in celebration of Zach’s return with the 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team let us say thank you to all service men and women, let us not forget that freedom is not free and too often it is paid for in blood. May we never loose sight of that and commit ourselves to preserving freedom, and that we may be the masters of our own destiny, and that being an individual is worth preserving worth defending and worth fighting for if necessary.

We owe a debt of gratitude to all our military personnel. I am truly thankful for the fact my son has safely left Afghanistan, thankful that he can now start the next chapter of his life. I am also saddened for those whose sons will not return, who have had deal with that heartache. For many warriors the greatest tribute they can pay to their fallen brothers is to live their life and do the most they can with it. “For he who sheds his blood with me today shall be my brother” – live on brothers live on!


"All gave some, some gave all!" As I write this I have just learned of a 20 year old young man who was killed yesterday. He was in the 101st Airborne graduated from Carrabec High School (not far from here) had a wife and was expecting his first child!

“And when he goes to Heaven
To St. Peter he’ll tell:
Another Marine reporting, sir,
I’ve served my time in hell”

Grave of a Marine on Guadalcanal

“And I can't call in sick on Mondays when the weekend's been too strong,
I just work straight through the holidays,
And sometimes all night long.
You can bet that I stand ready when the wolf growls at the door,
Hey, I'm solid, hey I'm steady, hey I'm true down to the core,
And I will always do my duty, no matter what the price,
I've counted up the cost, I know the sacrifice,
Oh, and I don't want to die for you,
But if dying's asked of me,
I'll bear that cross with an honor,
'Cause freedom don't come free.
I'm an American Soldier, an American,
Beside my Brothers and my Sisters I will proudly take a stand.
When liberty's in jeopardy I'll always do what's right.
I'm out here on the front lines, sleep in peace tonight.
American Soldier,
I'm an American Soldier.”

From the song American Soldier by Toby Keith

You are superman, I love you Zach, Welcome back! Soon it will be welcome home!

Friday, November 5, 2010

Day -4

Mom – Day -4

Many people asked me what I was going to do with the Blog. They wanted to know if I was going to continue, maybe talk about our transitions …. Honestly, I didn’t know what I was going to do. I had been waiting for Day Zero for so long and when it came, I didn’t know if it was really true. It is still a bit surreal. After I wrote Blog Day -1, I knew exactly what to do. I was exhausted! I am still exhausted. I just want to be able to sleep, catch up on all the sleep I lost. That is it. I am tired and done. This is my last Blog entry.

I love you Zach, Good Night
Love your Mama

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Day -3 Dad

I talked to Zach yesterday he sounded so good. He was happy to be back in Germany but was upset that there are no days off! He said that everyday he has briefing, in processing and debriefing. I told him these are important things that are part of integrating back into society from a combat zone. He agreed and said it is part of the Army game. It will take time for him to wind down, but it will take time for us to wind down as well. What a trial this has been for our family and for him. It is the same for thousands upon thousands of families across America and in countless allied countries around the world. So many have suffered through a year or two or three of this hardship, and yet others saw the hardship abruptly end and grieving begin. Today in the paper I saw the picture of young girl crying into the fold American flag that had just been given to her. Moments before it was draped over the coffin that held her fathers body. No words spoken or mere mention of his being a hero can ever ebb the grief that will be with that young girl probably for the rest of her life.

This is why Zach feels so much desire to achieve now, he feels that he must live life to the fullest and achieve his potential to honor those who fell. For his friend Matthew Hennigan, who was killed in a fire fight and with whom Zach was to go snow boarding this winter. I believe Zach is destined to great things, not just because he is my son, and I admit that does make me biased, but also because of his great understanding of what is right and just. He understands that fair is only determined by those in charge. However, just and right are concepts that are quantifiable, discernable and defendable. He is a student of history and understands the magnitude of his decisions and actions, he understands the legacy of his military service, the importance of education what it means to sacrifice not in words but in actions.

The one thing I truly feel that I have done right as a parent is to allow my children to be independent and given them the tools to be confident in that while being good citizens. I have always tried to do the same with my exchange kids and we all have such good relationships for that reason. Life is not easy, never has been, never will be but the desire to succeed and do well will keep it fresh and interesting. For Zach that chapter is now in its infancy but the real adventure begins.

For Lisa and I as well, I cried when I found out he was in Germany, it was like I was in Limbo from Afghanistan fatigue. Kyrgyzstan is still a somewhat hostile country they let us have the base there because we bid more than the Russians, ah but Germany – beer, brats, sauerkraut, potato dumplings, sauerbraten and the like. I could relax, I can relax enjoy it Zach, I look forward to seeing you here in Maine. The air is different, the sky is bluer, and even the auto repair bill thanks to our fabulous Maine roads can’t remove my smile and good cheer today!

You are superman, I love you Zach!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Day -1

Mom – Day -1

Today Zach called me at school during my prep time. I couldn’t believe that I was speaking to him from Germany. I don’t know how to describe how I felt because words cannot compensate for my feelings. Today, I have been discussing the Day of the Dead with my students and I feel as if my mother was there listening to my lecture. I must be over sensitive now because I can’t seem to stop crying because I feel so lucky. I tell myself I should never complain for the rest of my life because all of my prayers have been answered. Today I also received a big package from my sister with the book, The Kite Runner, a Mexican of the Virgin of Guadalupe, and other little things – some of the things that kept me going: learning about the culture, and my faith. I just feel so blessed and scared that I shouldn’t deserve this. One day, far from this day, I will go back and read my 365 days of prayer. Funny how this war is because I am the enemy, the Infidel, somehow I don’t feel like the Infidel because I have never prayed to God so hard as I have done this past year. Please continue the prayers for those that are still willing to fight and are willing to sacrifice their life for …. Sometimes I don’t even know what we are fighting for .

I love you Zach and I love my family.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Day zero

Day 17 - NO DAY 0, that is ZERO

Mom – Day 17 NO it is Day 0, that is ZERO

Today is Day ZERO. He is really out of AFGHANISTAN – he is done with his deployment and is now in Germany. I can’t believe that it has come to an end and I don’t know what to do. I have been teary eyed but I can’t wait to shower so I can just cry and cry. Cry for my relief of not having that pit in my stomach any more, cry for the soldiers that Zach is leaving behind, cry for Zach’s friends that did not make it back with him and for their parents that will never write Day Zero. I don’t know what to do with my emotions now that it is over.
Today is November 1st. Día de los Muertos is Nov 1st and 2nd. This is the day that the living remember those that have passed on but today I think that the ones that have passed on remembered the living – they helped bring Zach to a safe place today. I do think that our prayers were heard and Grandma, Grandpa, Tristan, and many others were helping us through this. Today I called Mary Golden, my cyber friend, Robert’s mother. It was odd because I never spoke to her on the phone, only via computer, but it also felt normal because we are both at the same place in our lives – Mary we made it!
I don’t know what I will do next. I think I need a little time to think and understand what my new role is going to be. I need to figure me out. I do know that I am so lucky to have Galen there next to me and for being such a great Dad and husband. I am also lucky for having all of the support I have received from my family and friends. 6,734 hits from people reading our Blog – Thank you
Yes, now I am crying.

I love you Zach so much