Because we were catching up on old episodes of Army Wives before I came upstairs this evening, I am reminded of a fact few people know about the Radical: her connections to the military. Two of my cousins served in Gulf I; and we had a family connection who was deployed to Afghanistan with the Special Forces a couple years back. In fact I, and my sister, are the first generation of my father’s family to have not served in the military since at least the American Revolution (since our family comes from western Massachusetts, it seems likely that we could take that date back to the French and Indian War, and perhaps even Metacom’s War.) Not accidentally, one of my current favorite activities is reading the blogs of military wives (who probably detest Army Wives, much as medical people scoff at ER and Grey’s Anatomy.) At The Real Army Wife you can read the thoughts of an infantry Lieutenant’s spouse; her husband is deployed in the Sand Box (this is the kind of lingo you learn if you watch Army Wives, friends, the first season of which can be obtained on DVD.) While the Lieutenant is away, Real Army Wife is organizing for Obama, in addition to living her real life as a marketing exec. Rock on, dear. I hope you are on a base in a swing state. Like North Carolina.
Did you know that some of the important organizers in the early Civil Rights movement in the South were white military wives from the North stationed on bases? True. Progressives are everywhere.
Another military blogger — who found me, and who I have enjoyed a short correspondence with (she is a McCain/Palin supporter, I’m pretty sure, although she and her family are being trasnferred to England before the election) is Household 6 Hooah’s Weblog. Her husband, who sounds like career army, just finished his second deployment, and got home a couple days ago. So they are in the midst of what I imagine is a joyous — and complicated — transition. I am very happy too. Once I got to know this blogger a bit, read her blog, and grew to admire her resilience, I became very anxious about her husband’s return. I am very relieved, therefore, that he is safe home, and I can put my mind on other things, like the search committee I am running, and the paper I have to give in two weeks. I like this gal, whose email tag is Mommy2MyLilSpud: she’s cheerful, and reminds you that not everyone who is involved in the war is a screaming mess like they suggest in the newspapers. This is something I am glad to know, because one of the things that bothers me most about the last seven years is the endless human damage that often begins with the soldier and radiates outward to all his loved ones. But Mommy2MyLilSpud is a one foot in front of the other type of person whose toast seems to fall butter side up most of the time as a result, and I bet there are thousands more like her.
I am reminded when I read military family blogs that for those of us who are against the war it is a complicated issue to extend our sympathy and affection to those who have agreed to fight it. But it is something worth attempting because it expands the world of those of us who the government has deliberately shielded from the emotional consequences of this endless conflict (it does seem the economic consequences are coming home to roost, although as usual, those who made the war will suffer the least.) I can’t help extending myself, since my family, as well as my accidental, connections to the military keep me alert to those around me for whom the war is their life context right now (for example, the son of one of my Zenith colleagues was in Desert Storm, having joined the Army to get a civil service ranking that would allow him to be a forest ranger; another friend volunteers to help resettle Iraqi refugees, many of whom have had to flee because they worked for the American military.)
But I also think it is worthwhile for anyone who really believes they are going to support the kind of change Obama is promising after he is elected President to be in touch with military people, deliberately if necessary. Cleaning up after this war — and the many people who have been harmed by it — will be a huge part of what will be there waiting for the new President in 2009. Not to mention rebuilding a military that has been decimated by this conflict, and taking it back from the Blackwater, Halliburton and the other Bush cronies taxpayer money has been siphoned off to for the last six years. We need to compensate and care for the veterans, who have been routinely cheated of their bonuses, health care, and disability benefits, so that the money can be cycled back to an Iraqi government that is operating many billions of dollars in the black. Meanwhile the people who politicians refer to collectively as “heroes” are becoming homeless and have little or no access to health care after having been demobilized with severe health problems.
So for those of you who are anti-war: a vote for Obama is a vote for our troops. Get out there and do it in November. Hoo-ah.