Tuesday, August 01, 2006

"To Acknowledge Your Presence..."

The other day, I was feeling a little low. Like so many of my peers deployed far away from home, I was having a hard time managing the independence of my family, off to a summer holiday on the East coast, while I was on the other side of the globe. It is a difficult experience to get used to and while it is sometimes more easily accomplished by those of us who have been around the profession of arms for a decade or two, it is still difficult to be away missing so much of the little things that make up a day in a family.

So I was a little low when I entered into our evening staff call. As I sat down to take my place before the briefing started, my friend and fellow Major Tom Wirth sat in his designated space next to me. I felt his hand on my shoulder and he grabbed my neck and patted me on the back. “What?” I snapped. Not letting his hand leave my back, he said, “Nothing, man. I am just taking a moment to acknowledge your presence as a human being and a friend.”

I could only smile and shake my head, totally dumbstruck. Here was a friend at the exact moment I needed one, saying the exact thing that I needed to here. Just to be acknowledged felt like a blessing. It made me feel better and that the day was going to end alright.

Tom Wirth and I first met over the most difficult responsibility an Army officer can have. Together, we disclosed the loss of a Oregon Guard soldier to a mother and father. Two years ago this summer, the Oregon Army National Guard lost Spec. Eric McKinley. Tom was the casualty assistanceofficer and I was the public affairs officer that managed the media on McKinley's mother's behalf. It made for a challenging way to form a friendship, dealing with the consequences of such grief as we were. But it made me respect him for who he was and is, a citizen-soldier managing both a career in business and one as an Army officer, that then had to stop all of that and become a grief counsellor and family assistant when a family needed his help the most. It made me acknowledge him 'as a human being and a friend.' I didn't realize it then, but Tom helped me to realize it two years later in his words the other night.

All of us are deployed away from home and, no matter how close we are to our peers, at times each of us feels alone. But it is through this camaraderie of arms, this, the oldest fraternity known to man, that ‘unites us and binds us,' that we can some times in some brief moment, realize that we are not alone at all.

It is nice to have a friend. Thanks, Tom.


Blogger Kat said...

We back home do appreciate y'all so, so much. Each and every one of y'all are in our thoughts and prayers daily ~ and that's the honest-to-God truth.

Hang in there - we support y'all 200%.

11:24 AM  
Blogger Shawna Kennedy said...

Your words encourage me~ an Army wife sitting at home, missing my husband, surrounded by kids and the hussle and bussle of everyday life knowing you all wish for those little things right now, those little things with your loved ones.. Whether that be taking out the trash or playing with your children or just being apart of not apart from. You all are in my heart as well as your families..Take care of one another..

10:31 PM  
Blogger MrsSFCK said...

And yet, I read this blog entry a second time and am so touched. I sometimes hear the gwiver in my husbands voice knowing he longs to be home. It would be to pass on MjR Wirth's act of compassion to another in need. Thank you for your heartfelt postings that help me get thru this hard time.

10:42 PM  
Blogger twirth said...

Thanks Arnold for the kind words. I feel bless that I'm surrounded by such a great group of Americans, who I can all call friends. It is time I spend with you and the other staff members chewing the fat around mess hall table, laughing at a joke during staff call, or just even walking back to billets after a long day at work without a single word execpt "Goodnight Tom" "Goodnight Arnold, see you in the morning" that helps comfort me from being away from my wife and family. Thanks Arnold for your friendship.

10:41 AM  
Blogger DTB said...

Major Strong. We ALL appreciate you doing this for us. Thank you so much for your service.

10:42 PM  
Blogger Dave said...

Major Strong,

Thank you so much for what you do. You guys are doing good things and I believe time will prove that to be true. I was directed to your blog via a website dedicated to sports/media photographers.

May God keep you and all those soldiers around you safe from harm.

Dave Higginbotham
Decatur, AL

9:14 AM  

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