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Saturday, December 20, 2008


(I know that not everybody that joins the military goes into combat. But still.)

Today I went to the airport with a few friends from our JROTC unit to welcome troops home from Iraq. I helped put together packages of snacks, cards, and other things together for the soldiers.

It was a really rewarding experience. When they came out of the terminal, we cheered, waved American flags, and displayed posters reading "WELCOME BACK HOME" and "WE LOVE OUR TROOPS." Two adorable little children in wee bitty baby ACU's popped up and ran towards their dad when he came out. All the women aww'd.

After the welcome was over, I couldn't stop thinking about the friends I have that plan to go to the military. The majority of people I know are from JROTC, and the majority of people in JROTC want to serve. Even though I'm not going to become a soldier myself, I'm surrounded that people that will be.

Thinking of these people running around in ACU's and in combat zones sort of froze me a little inside. War has always been a pretty distant topic to me. I know it's going on, and I update myself often with the situations in the Middle East, but for me so far it's been simply "news", or a popular memoir subject, or an analogy for something else. It's never been particularly close or real.

And in a few years, Gabriel, JL, James, and 12 other people I'm friends with will be in the military, training for combat.

I don't even know how to explain what I feel about this. I'm proud of them for wanting to serve. I'm sad that they'll be in such a dangerous and stressful and very likely lethal occupation. I'm happy they're continuing family traditions, and will get a boost in paying for college. I'm worried that they'll go through something that'll make them emotionally disturbed. It's a complicated assortment of feelings that overall, makes me kind of forlorn.

But I guess seeing and being able to welcome the troops back home today made me more aware of things. It really made me appreciate the soldiers and my corps-heading JROTC friends a whole lot more than I already do.

What I really hope is that if any of my friends go overseas, I'll be able to welcome them home too.

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