* I post this in the hopes that we can share the American journey together (everyone who reads this and Senator Obama) and that my story is heard beyond this small venue, this small blog.
To The Honorable Senator Barack Obama,
I am the wife of an active Army officer. My husband has served in Iraq and he is now over seas in Korea. My story is small, almost insignificant when the voice of our president echoes across the television. He tells us the war on terror is a success. He tells us that he is both proud and supportive of the troops and the sacrifices they have made. He tells us this was necessary, that we must keep America safe. I don’t believe him anymore.
There are many stories about the military, the war in Iraq, and even a few about the forgotten war in Afghanistan. These stories are never quite complete, never quite illustrative of what is left behind, what is lost, and what is gained. The war, for many is as common as what was eaten for breakfast; the American people have become inured to the horrors. Perhaps we are out of words, our sadness and dismay spent in the early years of the war. And so we fill the airways with how the war is affecting the economy, how it is making gas and bread and everything else that much more expensive. We discuss how high the deficit has climbed and how our grandchildren will be saddled with the debt. But, that is the story we can accept, the story we can hear without guilt or shame.
It seems many in America would rather bury personal stories and truths, because they are too difficult to hear, to hard to get passed. I think that’s why so many people came away dismayed by Rev. Wright’s sermon. I watched the videos of your pastor and I didn’t come away angry or hurt by his words. Instead I felt that his life and the experiences he has had, that of a black man is a path I can never walk, a journey that is not mine. His words opened a curtain for me, reminding me that there are deeper stories beneath the surface and that the pains and tragedies as well as the joys of yesterday walk with us, shaping who we are today. And yet, in his words I can find a place of understanding. I can hear his pain and want to reach my hand to his, not out of pity, but out of camaraderie . We can keep each other company on this journey, we can remember for each other, and help one another when we are too tired. We are family, we Americans, and must respect each of our journeys, each of the things that have made us who we are. Neither he, nor you can ever truly understand my path, the journey my life has taken me on. Race is more than a discussion on philosophy, more than a sweeping generalization that neatens it into an acceptable package for the general public to digest. So too, is my story and the story of every family connected to the War on Terror.
I lived at Fort Sill, Oklahoma for 4 years. It is the home of the Field Artillery and in spring is so beautiful it makes your heart hurt. I learned a lot about what America is from the people of my community and how strong people can be when they have to be. I have watched my friends and neighbors struggle to get through tragedies both great and small, shoulders back, head held high. It is amazing and beautiful to see, the human spirit when its stretched so thin it seems it would break and yet, as you have so said, there remains the audacity of hope.
But, today, I am sad. The anniversary of this war isn’t only about the large global picture. It is about the father or mother who will never come home. It is about every family and their friends who have a cell phone within an inch of them 24 hours a day, not wanting to get the call from rear detachment, but knowing it could come at any moment. It is every person who has seen the soldiers in blue arrive at a neighbor’s house and drop everything to help. It is about the welcome home ceremonies where there is so much joy and relief and excitement it can barely be contained in the hanger. It is about the women and men who serve this country and the countless thousands who love them. Today, of all days, please remember us. Tell our story, the story of real people, with real lives, and those wonderful and often forgotten people who have made the ultimate sacrifice. Our journeys may be different, but we can stand beside one another, share our American tale, and offer each other hope.