The lights are on
Veteran Member - Level 11
It’s Sunday night…so
I guess it’s technically not Memorial Day just yet…but honestly, by the time I
get this posted…it will be close enough.
Memorial Day is a United States federal holiday
observed on the last Monday of May (May 31 in 2010). Formerly known as
Decoration Day, it commemorates U.S. men and women who died while in the
You might be
wondering why I am blogging about Memorial Day at a video game website and what
the correlation between the two is. I don’t know yet, but I’ll figure it out
along the way.
Some of us will
enjoy the day off tomorrow. Some might enjoy parades or attend memorial
services dedicated to those who paid the ultimate price defending this country.
Some will spend time with friends and family having barbeques or going to the
beach. Some might just enjoy the time off and play video games all day long.
Some will not.
Some will be at
the pointy end of the spear. Some will be going on patrols. Standing guard duty.
Some are living in tents and huts without the basics like electricity or hot
water, much less high speed Internet access or even dial up. Some are underway
on ships or submarines. Some are flying through our airspace just in case they
are needed. Some are strangers in a strange land surrounded by people who hate
them and want to kill them.
Whether you were
for the war(s) before you were against the war(s) is irrelevant. Let’s just
leave the politics and/or bias out of it and recognize there are thousands of
our men and women deployed around the world, doing what the Commander in Chief
has directed them to do; doing a job that most of us would not want to do…and
because of them…and those like them who made the ultimate sacrifice…some of us
can enjoy our day off tomorrow.
They have sworn
an oath and volunteered to pay that ultimate price, should that be their fate.
The least we can do is take a moment and acknowledge their commitment and
"People sleep peaceably
in their beds at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence on
their behalf." -George Orwell
I’m usually not
one to share sea stories or war stories…
But sometimes I
think it’s important so others will know…
sitting in BIAP. Baghdad International Airport. I’d been there for nearly 2
days waiting for a flight back stateside for 2 weeks of R and R. After nearly 9
months away, what was 2 or 3 more days? As a Navy guy, I was definitely a fish
out of water in a sea of Army soldiers. I didn’t mind. Gave me the chance to
sit there alone and just take it all in.
(Random Guy at BIAP)
There was this
platoon of soldiers sitting nearby…and they were doing what soldiers have been
taught. Sleep when you can get it. So, most were laid out on the ground with
their helmets over their faces trying to get some shut eye. These two young
guys were shooting the breeze. Kids really. I think my oldest son was older
than these two fellas. I couldn’t help but over hear their conversation. One of
the guys was talking about this being his third deployment. Two to Iraq and one
to Afghanistan. They couldn’t be more than 21. Not even old enough to drink
legally, but old enough to spend the last few years of their life deployed to a
foreign land. Old enough to fight the good fight and potentially die. Anyway,
they were talking about going back stateside and stocking up on all the games
and stuff that came out while they were gone. They were gamers.
Ironic that these
guys were deployed doing a job that some of us sit around and play in video
games, and yet, they were also just as interested in playing it. They were
talking about Modern Warfare and Halo. These guys were decked out in their “full
battle rattle” – body armor and helmets. One was armed with an M4 and the other
a SAW. And they were talking about Modern Warfare. It was a memorable moment.
There isn’t a lot
to do in Iraq. There’s the gym or the gym. But TONS of people have their TV and
consoles shipped over. (Me…I only had my PSP.) And depending on which area you
are assigned, there are some places where you can buy these items. The
selection isn’t the greatest, but it’s better than sitting in your little
trailer with nothing better to do.
(Surprise present from home)
I had this high
speed Army Sergeant that worked with me. He was a great guy. An awesome guy. He had this wonderful sense of humor...as demonstrated by some of the totally unauthorized patches he would put on his uniform.
(You never knew what SGT F was going to do next)
was going to an online school in his spare time for computer programming, and
used to spend a lot of our shift time developing iPhone apps (12 hour days x 7
days a week – you have lots of time at work to do non-work related work, if you
know what I mean). Well, this guy had his PS3 with him. And he bought the new
Star Wars: The Force Unleashed (obviously this was a couple of years ago). He
came in and was telling the crew about it. As a huge Star Wars fan and fellow
gamer…I told him to bring it in and hook it up. I was the Watch Officer in
charge of this communications / network operations center. So ultimately, I was responsible if the
higher ups got mad at us for goofing off on watch. But I didn’t care. These
people were away from their families, missing holidays and birthdays, and
everything in between…so why not have fun on those nights when nothing was
going on. So he did. He brought it in and hooked it up…and a bunch of us sat
around watching him play the Force Unleashed and for those few moments…it made
us forget where we were and what we were doing.
So maybe that’s
the correlation…maybe that’s the link between a blog posted at a video game
site and Memorial Day. Many of our men and women…deployed around the world…in harm’s
way…keeping us safe and sound…fighting the good fight…they’re gamers…just like
you and me.
And probably deserve
a moment or two of our time…thinking, praying or just acknowledging their
Lest We Forget…
In Memory Of…Manuel
Antonio Ruiz, HM3, USN (March 19, 1985 – February 07, 2007)
This is by far the hardest holiday for me. Its the one holiday of the year in which we are supposed to remember those who have fallen, yet many use it as a chance to forget. They try to forget about their job, they try to forget about school, they try to forget about the problems of their day to day lives and cut loose for an extended weekend.
For anyone who is in the military, or related to someone in the military, and knows someone that didn't come back, we don't need a day to remember. I started writing my Afghanistan blog after the 4th anniversary of a friend that I made in Afghanistan passed. I wanted to, and still want to shed light on what soldiers do day in and day out, to convey that there is more to what we are doing than just combat, but the biggest sticking point I have that holds me up on my continuation is how to go about talking about his passing. I still can't understand I could be on top of a truck for over 200 missions outside the wire as a gunner, and never fire a shot. My only real job on missions was security and if the need came, to fire at the enemy. My friend was a Civil Affairs soldier and was helping to make that country a better place, helping get wells dug, schools built, electricity to towns. He was doing all that to help them and is killed by a roadside bomb.
There's more to the story as far as how I found out about it that just make it to where I can't wrap my mind around it. I don't know if there really is a person who can. But while there are people barbequing and drinking, blissfully unaware of those who have passed, of how great some of these people were, there will always be those that will not, and cannot forget.
I can't say I remember anyone because well, I haven't lost anyone to a war. I've had a family that has gone to war, mainly Vietnam and Desert Storm, none at the moment because I decided not to. But people will remind me of the horrors of war and what does happen. It really puts it in perspective when you have had most of your family gone to war, and honestly, I don't know how people go over to a foreign country to fight. I thank them for what they do and keeping me safe, and many others. And for the ones that have died in war, R.I.P, hopefully you're in a better place now.
Beautifully said, everyone. I have lost one friend in Iraq (Michael Thompson) and have another (one my best friends ever, Orry Hammons) in Afghanistan. I remember fondly the heroes that pay the ultimate price for our freedom and happiness. Politics and propaganda aside, these people are true heroes and should be remembered as such. Great blog Saint.
I really hate how this day does not have a countrywide moment of silence. This day we are suppoused to honor those who have died so that we can be free, but so many people just blissfully blow it off like its Saint Patricks day.
That makes me sick.
In the late 60's and early 70's, over 50,000 U.S soldiers lost their life's to the cowardly Vietcong in the jungles of Vietnam.
In the 2000's thousands more died to the jihadists and terrorists in Iraq. Now I'm not going to start a political rant here, but I just want to quickly point out the President of the United States has not put a wriethe on the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, he is too busy in Chicago.
That is disrespectful, Mr. Obama, because far more honorable men have died to protect the rights of whites, blacks, Hispanics, Native Americans, ext, than our president.
Just had to point that out. Saint, I'm really grateful for the man you speak of's service to our country. I could never even do half of what our soldiers must do.
Yeah, Gamebeast, he went to a national cemetary and met with military families.
Now, if he was off playing golf, I could see being upset, but I for one consider what he was doing to be more than appropriate. Not to mention, he's not the first president to observe the day somewhere other than Arlington.
Thank you for your service, Saint.
And all of my thoughts go out to those currently in service, protecting us from harm. That Orwell quote is so appropriate.
I know you're Stateside now, Saint (you are, aren't you?), but still. Stay safe. And keep blogging here!
Oh, I was misinformed. I'm glad I was told wrong- or I would have lost all faith in government.
@Dave - yep...I'm stateside now...have been for awhile. Now I'm a desk jockey. Still have lots of buddies over there though.
What most people don't realize...I know I didn't before I went...but there are a whole lot of civilian contractors over there helping support the effort...risking their lives as well.
Don't worry...the blogging will continue...heh heh.