Traveling Boots


In uniform, and
frozen in time
but the world
does
not
wait

Cautiously
we patrol
littered
unknown
dirt
streets

Shoeless children pour
out of shacks
and
into
our
mission path

Dusty boots
take careful
steps
making
footprints
in some
hearts

We smile with guns
trying to
protect
and
make
friends

The enemy hides
among
innocent
faces
of
despair

Grand mountains
stand tall
guarding
secrets of
pain,
terror

Hope sprinkles
into hearts
settling
the dust
of history
and loss

Together
we stand
against
the
evil
in the world

Peace slowly
blooms
with the
fragility
of a
flower

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

For dVerse’s Adventures in Traveling.

This is a mix of memories from my times on deployment patrols. I remember the faces of people in Bosnia, Iraq and Afghanistan. A mix of hope and fear of our presence. The odd feeling of giving friendly smiles while holding rifles. We wanted to provide comfort to the good while fight the bad. However, you never really knew who was on what side for sure.

Fortunately, I was always on mild patrols where the heightened awareness and small incidents were the main forms of stress. I can only imagine the memories of my comrades who experienced much more intense scenarios.

To them, I hope they find the peace they wanted to help give.

Falling on my Face in Iraq


It was the first Iraqi election and I was in charge of all the journalists who were embedded with the Army. It was a grueling job that involved endless coordination and big name journalists. At one point there were over 150 different journalist to track. My team of one was spread thin, but I tried to play it cool. Unfortunately though, I fell on my face…literally.

It was 2005 and I was a lieutenant. I was the media embed coordinator. Basically, that meant that if media wanted to or were embedded with any Army troops, I had to coordinate their arrival, synchronize their linkup with a unit, track their stories, and orchestrate their exit of the battle field.

It sounded simple enough at first as an eager lieutenant. However, as the first Iraqi election drew near, so did the mass of demands. Not long after arriving in country, I was swamped. Daily, I was inundated with emails and phone calls that demanded attention. Not only did I have to process media requests to be embedded (which required several layers of tasks), I had to pick them up at the airfield, take them to meals, ensure they got credentialed and release them over to their embed unit. Then, while they were embedded, I had to track what stories they were putting out and create charts and spreadsheets. This was all while new media were entering and others were leaving. It was a constant circle of media coming and going. Though I would get help from time to time from other Soldiers, I had no staff. The embed mission was mine and mine alone. So the help I did get was limited as everyone else had their own mission. I can’t lie, I was spread thin and feeling it.

On one particular day, I was just getting off overnight duty of watching the press center. (We all took turns at nights so that there was a 24-hour presence in our building.) I was dead tired, but had a high-profile journalist arriving. I was to meet them and escort them to the media center.

The journalist was Lara Logan. I had seen her pass through our center before and was in awe her. She was gorgeous for one thing, but more importantly, she was a classy, but ruthless journalist. She covered real stories, got hard facts and did it well. As a fellow woman (one with a journalism degree), I was star struck. So, admittedly, I was geek-like excited that I got to be her Army escort and officially meet her, one on one. For me, it was the same as meeting a movie star. No, it was actually better because I respected her accomplishments that I know did not come easily.

So, I’m waiting in my up-armored suburban in downtown Baghdad (inside of a gated military area called the International Zone where some media lived). I’m trying to pretend I am not tired. I am trying to represent the United States Army with pride. I’m trying to be professional. I’m trying to not look like a kid about to see their idol. However, as soon as I see Lara Logan approaching my vehicle, all of my goals fall short. When I open the heavy armored door with my exhausted arms and I take a step out, my weary legs fail me and I fall. And with absolutely no grace whatsoever, I tumble out of the suburban and onto the dusty gravel right at Lara Logan’s feet. Graciously, she kneels down and in a lovely accent, asks me if I am ok.

Utterly embarrassed for so many reasons, my weary mind can only manage to say, Oh Lara, I just thought I would throw myself at your feet like all the boys must do.

How’s that for personal and professional embarrassment?

 ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

For the Daily Post ~ Boy, is my Face Red?

 

 

Washing Away Sin


I was baptized in an unholy place—one of Saddam Hussein’s palace pools in Baghdad to be specific. At first, I thought this was a horrible place to get baptized, but actually it wound up being perfect.

When the chaplain mentioned where the baptism was going to take place, I started imagining the horrible things that must have happened around these grounds. It was pretty common knowledge that Saddam was not the nicest and holiest of men. With that in mind, I started to think that I should not go through with it. I wanted my baptism to mean something, to be special. I didn’t want it to be tainted with a history of evil.

Then it dawned on me, having my baptism in a place known for sin and violence and who knows what else, was actually very symbolic. I mean the entire point of being baptized is to cleanse you from the sin, from the past. To make what was tainted and dirty fresh…and start anew.

It was a moving experience to say the least. And the host of the service, Cannon White, spoke so eloquently, making it even more meaningful. It’s funny, because over the years, I had forgotten his name and it bother me. One day, I was listening to a National Public Radio broadcast and heard this religious speaker. I recognized his distinctive voice immediately. Without a doubt, he was the one who baptized me in May of 2005.

Now, ten years later, I think about that day and what it meant. I can’t say I was completely changed and that I am now the perfect Christian. No. I still stumble. I still sin. I am not perfect by any means. And I am not completely changed since I was a practicing Christian prior to my baptism. I just had not be baptized before and wanted to take that step.

I remember being a small child and watching someone get baptized. I wanted to do it. I wanted to be close to God. So right in the middle of a service, I started begging my mom. She told me I had to wait. I had to be older. And well, I couldn’t just go up there and jump into someone else’s moment. So of course, I threw a fit like the child I was. I lay under the pew crying that she was keeping me from God. LOL…my poor mother.

It was the right choice of course. Being baptized as an adult meant more. I had to really evaluate what I wanted and why. I got to choose for the right reasons. Every day is still a struggle though. It is hard to have faith in times of stress. It is hard to hold unto hope when things look bleak. It is hard to feel loved when you feel alone. And boy is it hard to turn the other cheek when people are cruel. But I try. I really do try. I think that is all we can do as people. Regardless of your faith, I think most of us try to live our lives well, have a purpose and make a difference. We try to be good, loving, and caring people. We won’t succeed every day. What is important though, is that we know, each new day is a chance to start anew. It doesn’t matter if we are coming from a bad past or have not always been the best person. We can all start fresh and wipe our slate clean, even if we do it with some questionable pool water.

For the Daily Post ~All It’s Cracked Up to Be.