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Sunday, February 21, 2010

A Liberal's View of War

Let me start by saying yes I am against war, ANY war. I am a mother. I certainly don't want MY son in harm's way nor anyone else's for that matter, regardless of what god they believe in. That said, last October I was approached by ARMED FORCES ENTERTAINMENT to produce a comedy tour in the Middle East. One stipulation, they wanted me to perform to on the tour. And you know what? This little old anti-war mommy jumped in with both feet.
My father is a Korean War veteran. He is almost 80 years old and still can't bring himself to fully discuss what happened to him. So I always wanted to go overseas to perform for the troops. To give some laughs in a very tense atmosphere. To honor my dad and his friends who never returned home. But I didn't want to leave my young son, on the off chance I didn't make it back. Cut to this fall, my son's turning 18 in a few months, now's the time. So here was this menopausal, jewish, liberal going off to Kuwait and Iraq. What Empty Nest syndrome?
Besides being one of the best experiences of my life I also learned a few things. Back home we, myself included, are under the misguided notion that our troops don't want to be fighting or even be there. Let me set this straight....the entire time I was in Iraq there was not ONE WORD of discontent. And I had time to talk to quite a few soldiers. Did they miss their families? Absolutely! I go away for the weekend and I'm homesick. But the feeling that I got was that this was their job. They chose a life in the military. And they're smart as a whip. Are they bloodthirsty savages, enjoying the killings they are forced to do? Once again, no. But if you have someone throw a bomb at a stryker and it injures some of your buddies, you damn well are going out to find who did it and make them pay. Maybe it's the Brooklyn in me, but I have always been an eye for an eye kinda gal.
As a liberal, I have to say that we are still stuck in a Vietnam mindset of these "poor boys" were made to go over. That's what I thought and I was proven wrong over and over. Are they children? Yes, they are, but they have a sense of duty and loyalty that you just can't teach in Little League. I was so in awe of these men and women, not much older than my own son doing their duty to their country. Teenagers were flying the C-130 I went to Iraq in. TEENAGERS!
Now do I think we should be there? NO. War is nasty & horrific, but no matter how evolved humans become someone is gonna want something that they can't have and end up fighting for it. The Middle East has been fighting amongst themselves for many years, they don't want a resolution. They just want to argue...sorta like Congress. Now that we ARE there, we have to step up to the plate and finish the job, regardless of who started it. That's my biggest problem with the media and politicians both LEFT and Right. No one wants to resolve anything, just dig their feet in and say..NO YOU'RE WRONG. There is no solution, just more fighting. In that way America is JUST LIKE the Middle East. My point here is, while these grownup "children" are arguing who's right and who's wrong, real CHILDREN are being put in harm's way. And that's what's wrong with war.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

He's a man, baby

Most of my closest friends expected me to be in a puddle today as my only son turns 18. I have a tendency to cry at the drop of a hallmark commercial when it comes to Layne. Surprisingly I'm ok with it. Do I miss the baby, toddler, young boy? Absolutely! One of my favorite things to do with Layne as a small child was cuddling up with a good book and reading it to him. Yesterday we sang Thunder Road while he played guitar. Not the same thing but joyous also. Today I feel proud when I look at him. Maybe it was being around all of those young soldiers both men and women. I saw how capable they were at such a young age. Todd & I did a good job, he is a wonderful, thoughtful, caring young MAN....There I said it

Sunday, February 07, 2010

And we're done

Funny how ten days away can change your perspective. My feelings going over to perform for the troops was excitement but in the back of my head I knew what the risks were. The tour started us off easy, 5 star hotel, big base, lots of troops excited to hear some comedy. We went to bed exhilarated. Next day was the first day of travel in the Blackhawks. I felt like a little girl, weeeeeee.
When we landed in Tarmiya we all knew this was a DIFFERENT type of base. All men, well boys really. We spoke at length about war and the bad guys. Stuff I couldn't comprehend but understand now. As they were getting ready to go on a mission they sat and posed with us for pictures and joked around. They were leaving to go into certain danger. 3 of their colleagues had been injured a week before from a bomb and yet each was going with no trepidation. We all know war sucks but these young men were there tp do their job and they do it with such bravery. This tour has been one of the best experiences of my life.

Thursday, February 04, 2010

Day 2

NOW it gets interesting. We leave to board our first blackhawk which was also 3 hours late. Gives new meaning to 3 hour tour. Our first stop was a foward operating base which means they are the ones that go out and do the sweeps for the enemy. No women in the crowd, they were smoking cigars I felt like I was in the remake of the Dirty Dozen. They couldn't have been nicer. They were going out on a mission right after our show so we got to see them get ready for battle. They even had a bomb sniffing dog. Which Leighann and I fawned over (we asked if we could) The dog was my highlight. These guys are leaving and facing emminent danger and yet they had time to pose for pictures with us and joke with us. Then off to the next camp. Larger base, 400 troops. Again great crowd. I have never felt so proud to be an American. We had to rush the last meet and greet to get to the Blackhawk to get back to Baghdad. I am wiped and yet wide awake. And grateful. Oh so grateful

Day one Iraq

So we get to the airbase to take a C-130 at around 9. We then proceed to wait....for 3 hours. There's alot of waiting in the military. We finally get to board, there isn't enough room on the plane so I get sent upstairs. I'm thinking 747 cocktail lounge. I'm going to sit in the cockpit with the flight crew. HOLY SHIT. I'm looking at these kids who aren't much older than my son Layne and they're flying a C-130?? My kid can't do his own laundry.
We get to Baghdad and we're all just beat so we took a quick nap and then performed for about 300 troops. And you will hear comics say again and again, the military are the best audiences in the world.

Monday, February 01, 2010

Finally here

I wasn't sure how I was gonna fare being in a plane for 12 hours. As a New Yorker I must GO GO GO. We left an hour late and while up in the air someone passed out after ten hours 2 rows behind us. So we killed an hour watching everyone try to revive him. As we got off the plane I remembered something from when I traveled as a child. Outside of the USA women are second class citizens, WTF? Not knowing what to do as far a visas I kept asking questions and NOONE would help "just get in line and wait". The Visa line looked like the DMV in Los Angeles, I figured we were there for the night. Luckily we got through everything in a hour and we in out hotel by 930 and at the buffet by 10. It is now 6 AM Kuwait time and I slept for about 5 1/2 hours. Not sure if I can get back to sleep so hence, the blog. Our military liason is a wonderful man named Col. Schock. We sat with him at dinnertime and he answered all our questions stupid or not. I am still in wonder that you board a metal object in one place and end up across the world 12 hours later. 52 years old and I'm still a kid when I travel. Later today is our first show. It can't get here fast enough