Friday, March 13, 2009

I opened ('s online) the Stars and Stripes (a compilation of other news sources)today...that's the newspaper that they give out for free in Iraq, and saw a picture of my friend from school. He was at Fort Hood with me, and now we're both in Iraq. I found it rather poignant considering what I sent out last night, that this article was in the same paper officially announcing the death of LT Hyde.

Anyone who knows me knows how much I love Army sports. The West Point athletes always amazed me. They did the same things I did, the same training, took the same classes...but were also so good at their own sports that they competed at the NCAA level against athletes at other colleges. Alex's story isn't all that rare, surprisingly. Along with him, I can count three other soldier-athletes I know of who have had the opportunity to go to the Olympics, one of whom chose to pursue that goal (Mike Benedosso, 110lb boxer), and two who chose not to. One of those two, Emily Hannenburg, a fencer, is now in Iraq leading a platoon and the other, Laura Walker, was killed in Afghanistan some years ago.

It's a rare privilege to be awed by ones peers, but a privilege nonetheless. I only hope that at the end of my year here, I'll feel as though I've done something to have earned being in the same category of these others who have given so much--quite literally their lives and their dreams.

As for now, I still feel like an impostor, much as I did the whole time I was at West Point, as though some twist of fate has allowed me the privilege of seeing behind the curtain, but that at any minute, someone will check a roster and say, "'re not supposed to be here..."

I do like what my friend Mark said about my job, which gives me some comfort:
While we may often only see the face of a watch all of the gears behind the scenes are even more important to the operation of the watch.

Monday, March 09, 2009

well done, be thou at peace...

I don't know how to eulogize someone I was not friends with, but who still made an impact on me. What do you say about someone you admired, but did not know--someone whose example was enough to make you want to be a better person. Dan was that kind of guy...the kind of guy who, when people spoke behind his back, they said things like "he deserves more" or "he's really one of the best guys I've ever known". It was praise given in private because Dan was the kind of guy who didn't need praise.

This is a picture from graduation, a happy but bittersweet day, when you had to say goodbye to those you'd gone through so much with knowing you might not see some again. That's Dan, in front. Always in front...he was a leader.

I don't know what else to say...anyone, literally anyone, who knew him will tell you, we have lost someone great. Someone who the world is a lesser place without. All I can say, as we do everytime we lose a classmate, is what I hope someday I will have earned hearing said about myself--

Well Done Dan, Be Thou at Peace.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

The Shield is a television show that I have come to view as the antithesis of West Point. I don't know how it ends, but the basic story line involves a bunch of cops whose primary allegiance is to one another instead of to their higher calling, or profession. Each episode has them lying, cheating or stealing to protect themselves or their friends--and my guys love the show.

We've watched something like five or six seasons now (and, by "we" I mean they have, but I live with them so I have to listen). The acting isn't that great (minus the season with Glen Close) and the weekly plots are pretty predictable of bad cop dramas.

Recently, an issue came up where I immediately knew that it would garner me an ass-chewing. I wasn't too upset, I'm a Lieutenant, it happens all the time, but my guys didn't see it as such. Immediately they began to devise elaborate plots and schemes, told me what to say to minimize the impact. Everything from equivocating to outright lies. One of them said, "Sir, there's gotta be some Shield kind of scheme we can come up with." While he was joking, I was hurt.

I can't help but wonder if I'm doing something wrong, or if maybe I've given them the wrong impression. If, after 15 months of working together, they honestly think I'd rather lie than get small but stern talking to about something not even that important, then they don't know me as well as I thought. But I don't think that's their fault. Character should, it seems, be something that people can tell about you through experience. It is suddenly apparent to me that through their experience, they have misjudged my character--and that is on me, not them.