Well, the wife has done it again. Done a great thing, that is.
She is part of the National Charity League (NCL), along with our daughter. This is a fantastic philanthropic organization consisting of moms and daughters that go out into our ugly world and try to bring a slice of normality to it by donating their time, efforts and, occasionally, monies, to deserving charities and causes. One of their projects is to work with Operation Interdependance
(OI), an organization formed to gather and send needed supplies to our troops stationed overseas in harm's way.
Our humble task this last Sunday was to volunteer at our local 'branch' of OI
. It was Father/daughter day for NCL, which is an annual occasion for the normally female group.
We met at the local packaging/shipping center for OI
and were quickly integrated into their process of receiving, packing, weighing, labeling and shipping things to our men/women overseas. Things that we take for granted and usually don't even think about like baby wipes (since bathing is a luxury for much of their duty), notepads for letter writing, candy, shampoo, soap, snacks, toothbrushes, gloves.I could go on and on.
Each box is packed to it's fill with as much as possible. The boxes are a specific size (about 18"x18"), for shipping uniformity, and would provide goods for 50 troops. No box was sealed until 50 handwritten letters had been placed at the top as well. For many of the troops, this is the most needed and appreciated supply.
The letters are not long, or personal to anyone except the hand writing the note. I found myself out of duties for awhile so I found a pad and pen, and wrote some myself. I first did not know what to write, or to whom, but quickly decided to just write what I really thought, and not to try and manufacture a perfect letter. One might have read :
Dear American Hero,
Yes, that title is correct. We want to thank you for being something we sorely lack in this world: a true hero..someone that sacrifices him/her self for the greater good. We also want to thank your family, as they share in your experience as you are away from them guarding our liberties. We know that our precious freedom is not free, you are paying that price for us. God Speed to you all. Come home safe.
I found this process both satisfying and angering at the same time.
I am proud to be part of a nation that has become a light to a dark world (although we seem to be getting dimmer as each election passes). I am proud to be able to help our troops, although they deserve so much more (as do our police, fire, teachers etc). It is because men and women before me were willing to do the hard thing, set aside their lives and defend our borders, as well as our values, that I have the opportunity to pursue my life's dream and create beautiful automobiles.
The angering side comes from the fact that we have to send such seemingly basic items to our troops at all. They "should" have WHATEVER they need to do their job, including some stress relieving things like a candy bar, or a movie, or a toothbrush. This presumes that they have all the protective gear, weapons, ammo and support that we can possibly give them. Thank God we live in a country where we have the freedom, and prosperity, to pitch in and provide such things to our real Heros.
Our resident Marine, Cliff, can attest to the fact that these simple shipments of everyday throw-away items are like gold to our troops. He served recently and remembers well what it meant to get something from home, even if it is just an anonymous letter or a pack of baby wipes to wash with. Our other vet, Bruce, could only wish for this kind of support during/after his tenure in Viet Nam. Despite all the flaws, we have coma a LONG way.
I urge any of you out there that may read this to find some way to pitch in, if you haven't already. It doesn't have to be a big commitment of time, or money. I can be as simple as a few hand-written letters, or a donation drive at your company that purchases things our troops need. Heck, just pray for them. They are in harm's way on a daily, if not hourly, basis. If you have ideas, or need some, feel free to contact us through our website
. We will help, or welcome your help, anyway we can.
I meant this to be a quick little blog while I waited for my daughter's volleyball practice to end. You can see how that turned out! For a man of few words, I sure can type a lot.
It is not my intention to write this as some rant, or to cast dispersions against the present, or any previous, administration. I guess I am writing because for a few hours, on a non-descript Sunday, I was given clarity. Clarity about my purpose and how I can fit in to the bigger picture; about our Nation's purpose in this world and how I can help and, also, clarity about how selfless and awesome my significant other is. Her picture should be next to the word "give" in the dictionary.
'til next time,
Monday, March 1, 2010