Earlier tonight I was reading some posts on the SpouseBuzz Blog and one of them really touched my heart. It had a link to a song video by Helene Cronin. The SpouseBuzz post originated with the Soldier's Angels blog.
The song is called "Lucky Me". The SpouseBuzz blog had some history: "The song is a true story based on Helene’s trip back from Nashville. Standing at the counter at the airport, she happened to strike up a conversation with the soldier standing near her. He mentioned he was headed back to Iraq and asked where she was going. “I'm going home,” she said. “Lucky you,” he replied."
I've listened to the song three or four times now and every time it hits my heart. As you know, I served in the Air Force for 10 years. During that time I deployed several times. I volunteered for every deployment I could. I loved being deployed; I loved feeling like I was finally doing what I signed up for. Every time an aircraft launched, I knew I had done my small part in making that operation a success and protecting the freedoms we enjoy as Americans. I know that sounds cheesy but that's what got me out of bed and kept me going.
I was assigned to Lajes Air Base in the Azores when 9/11 happened. I was doing turnover with my replacement at the time so there was quite a bit of overlap between the two of us as to who was helping to support our efforts when the aircraft began pouring through. There were a few times before I left that I felt left out of the "action." I was the one with the experience but the Director of Operations felt I should be concentrating on out processing. I understand what he was thinking but still wish he had let me make that decision. I moved on to Ramstein AB Germany where we were considered forward-deployed so we only supported the fight from there. After 22 months at Ramstein I went to the Pentagon for the AF Intern Program. Once again, I was not allowed to deploy. By 2005, I was at Andrews AFB, MD; again, assigned to a non-deployable unit.
I write out this history of assignments to show that I never participated in either IRAQI FREEDOM or ENDURING FREEDOM. And I really wanted to. All of the other deployments and operations I participated in were not so closely tied to really protecting what we, as the United States, stand for. I'm very proud of what I did and accomplished while in uniform but I wish I had been able to do more.
I realize I am very lucky that I never had to go to either Iraq or Afghanistan. Yet, when I listen to the song "Lucky Me", especially the words towards the end "Freedom comes at a heavy price; we don't all pay our equal share or know what it's like over there. Lucky us, the ones at home while others go to the battle zone; they are the brave, we are the free..."it makes me sad that I didn't pay anywhere close to my equal share and that I don't know what it's like "over there."
Back in 2003, I was at a course at the George Marshall Center. One night, we went to the symphony in Vienna. That same night, my brother was in Iraq with the 3rd Infantry Division. I remember the music made me so sad I started crying. All I could think of is that all I had ever wanted was to serve my country, yet I was having the time of my life and it was my little brother who was at war. I've never forgotten that.
I am lucky. I know that. And it would be very hard for me to deploy now with a husband and son. I am lucky there are still people out there willing to fight and die so that I can enjoy the freedom to sleep in my own bed in my own home with my husband next to me and son down the hall (and sometimes vice versa...). I am lucky I had the opportunity to serve my country at all and was happy to do it.
I just sometimes wish I could have done more...