I’ve had a lot of time to reflect since I’ve gotten back from Kuwait for my trip to perform there. I wanted to try and meet the magnitude of the experience and share to the degree which I was moved. I feel I might have missed the mark if only because words often cannot express the immediacy of impact these kinds of experiences can have.
Was it an amazing experience? Unbelievably so. From the time we arrived until the time we left Ali Al Salem, I was struck by all of the young faces who were laser focused on their responsibilities. Sure, they had a rec hall where they could do “american” things like play pool or table tennis. There were TV’s here and there broadcasting football games at crazy hours so people could stay in touch with “normal life.” They had Americanized meals that were really quite good.
But our meeting with base commander Colonel Hanover set the tone from the point of our arrival. These people were there to be a very important part in a larger picture, none more important than the other. The Colonial shared how he came from a Special Forces background and early on would often think his role was king. He shared that years become a reference point and as a leader it was now crystal clear how all roles serve an integral part. He was extremely gracious in his hospitality and very forthright with his take on what the state of the middle east is. He was emphatic we entertain his people and help them forget for a little while why they are there and what they are there to do.
I won’t remark on our performance other than to say I was literally moved to tears early on. I tried to hide it. I was, after all, surrounded by people whom were all tougher than me. It was a blast and over entirely too quickly. Following the performance and without exception, every person in attendance was thankful for our time and many stopped us to thank us even a day later.
But throughout the entire ordeal, what was most striking, was how everyone went about their days. Like anyone else living a normal americanized life, their routine is what gets them through. Never mind they are 7500 miles away from home on the other side of the world. They are just focused on getting their work done and getting back to their lives. It is such a selfless endeavor yet they are all so much like you and I. They have the exact same wants and needs. They aren’t just militarized borgs assimilated with a single function. They have worries, lives, hopes, and dreams in-between the minutia that gets them to the next day closer to home. Maybe this isn’t a revelation to you, but it sure is to me. Often I feel so disconnected from news events that it almost becomes a movie or a staged reality show. I can assure you these people are real and the gravity of my time there will never be lost on me. The events we hear about are often played out with these people involved.
Now, as I sit and reflect on the time I am going to have in the coming days to spend time with my wife, kids, family, and friends, my fortune comes sharply into focus. It’s knowing there are literally thousands of others in the world manning the security patrols, preparing for a battle we may never hear about, piloting a plane to drop relief supplies to hungry people, maybe even protecting things like Mosul dam from terrorist attacks, that humbles me so very, very much.
What I can tell you is this: These trips transcend politics. They are more than a Facebook status or a twitter hashtag to me. Countless young men and women in the US Military are sacrificing every second of every minute of every day to help ensure we have the luxury to enjoy the very things they cannot.
With that in mind words cannot express how very thankful I am.