Life During Wartime

We are at war.

See the 3,000How do I know this? Because it seems that on a nightly basis I hear of the latest brave American to give his life over in Iraq. Last night it was three lives - two Marines killed in Anbar (ages 23 and 20) and a soldier killed in Nineveh (age 21). Yet here on the home front we feel hardly a ripple of what many military families around this country must feel every minute of every hour of every day.

For those of us without a family member or friend over in Iraq, or in Afghanistan, we feel no sense of sacrifice. We go about our daily lives as usual. Sometimes we forget. We forget that somewhere in some Mid-East place a young American serviceman is on patrol, wondering perhaps in the back of his mind if he will live to see tomorrow. Yet here we are, not missing a beat in our daily lives, working our jobs throughout the week, going out for dinner on Saturdays, watching football on Sundays, complaining about the high cost of gasoline, and sometimes not remembering that we are at war.

Granted, this is a strange war. It's largely an intangible war with unclear enemies. But what's not intangible are the now 3,061 US servicemen dead (according to an AP report), the more than 20,000 wounded, and a situation which is rapidly spiraling into a civil war - with Sunnis on one side, Shiites on the other, and Kurds somewhere out along the edges.

Things seemed different in our other wars. During WWII, Germany and Japan were the clear enemies - you could easily find them on the world map. On the home front there were blackouts, and tire drives, and metal drives, and rationing, and war bonds, and a star or two (or five in the case of the Fighting Sullivans) on most every front door, keeping the population firmly rooted to the sacrifices taking place overseas.

During the early part of my lifetime it was the Cold War that was being fought across ideological front lines. Though it was a somewhat intangible war -- made tangible by Korea and Vietnam and when missiles were discovered in Cuba -- it was somehow very real for each one of us. It seemed inevitable that one day the East and West would reach that point of no return and the missiles would fly. And we knew that hiding beneath our school desk was not going to save us.

Despite this daily fear of mutual annihilation, I prefer a Cold War fight to the one we're waging now. You knew who the enemy was (the Ruskies) and where they were located  (Moscow) and what we had to fear (their nukes). Today, I haven't a clue who the enemy is or in which cave they're hiding today or how they might be a threat.

Listen, I don't want to bring you all down. Normally what I write in this blog is some silly little bit about squirrels stealing my pumpkins, or backwards Christmas songs, or the joy of beef and cheese, or literary classics edited by tax accountants.

All I'm saying is ... in our daily travels let's not forget about the sacrifices being made by our young countrymen and women in uniform. In the case of last night's news, two Marines and an Army soldier.    

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With that said ... to lighten the mood I've written a little song (think Tom Lehrer). I call it Bring Back the Old Cold Days (or Please Pass the SALT) and it goes something like this:

Remember the old Cold War? / The ideology that we were fighting for / Democracy, liberty, and apple pie

Communism was to blame / Dominoes an effect, not just a game / Our leaders told the truth, they never lied

Remember the old Commie folk? / Stalin, Khrushchev, and Brezhnev, what a joke! / They were always good for a laugh

But today the bad guys aren't as fun / They hide in caves, always on the run / They're not nearly as suave, not even by half

 

{Chorus}

So, bring back the old Cold days / Bring back the old Soviet ways / Sputnik, Soyuz, and cosmonauts in orbit

So, bring back the old Cold nights / The USSR and MiGs in flight / The Iron Curtain, SALT II, and Olga Korbut

 

Terrorists are an elusive lot / They blow themselves up, and then what have you got / They don't fight by the rules, and that's not nice

In the Cold War we each had the bomb / We could blow up every dad and every mom/ To each day, Armageddon added a little spice

 

{Chorus}

So, bring back the old Cold days / Bring back the old Soviet ways / Sputnik, Soyuz, and cosmonauts in orbit

So, bring back the old Cold nights / The USSR and MiGs in flight / The Iron Curtain, SALT II, and Olga Korbut

{Repeat Chorus ... Everyone!}

So, bring back the old Cold days / Bring back the old Soviet ways / Sputnik, Soyuz, and cosmonauts in orbit

So, bring back the old Cold nights / The USSR and MiGs in flight / The Iron Curtain, SALT II, and Olga Korbut

Jack Sheedy

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