I started reading Where Men Win Glory today by Jon Krakauer. It is the story of Pat Tillman. I had heard something about Pat Tillman back when he died, but considering I was in my freshman year of college, I had much more important things to do (like eat Taco Bell in ungodly amounts and procrastinate by talking on AIM with my friends back home until ungodly hours) and grossly ignored it. Recently I ran Pat's Run, a 4.2 mile race in Pat Tillman’s honor. This got me interested in his story, so my friend Ryan lent me the book to read.
Pat Tillman Race/Marathon Training Side Note/Update: I was super worried since I hadn't run on anything but a treadmill for 7 months, but Aaron signed me up for the run and then told me he did later, so I had no choice. But I did well, 36.05 not too shabby for just starting out. Most importantly it gave me confidence to run more! It was really cool to run a race past military vehicles driving, and they debriefed us at the beginning that if there was a rocket attack to jump in the nearest ditch. Well that’s something you normally don’t hear at a race debriefing. It was also awesome because some units ran, so they were chanting and other soldiers wore their combat boots, or flak jackets!
I haven’t written a blog post in a long time, and every time I say I should, I feel uninspired. I also haven’t picked up a book in a long time. Now I’m three chapters into this book, and immediately thought of so many things I wanted to say. Lighbulb moment! Reading good books with others' words fuel my own words!
Anyway, when thinking about Pat Tillman’s life the first word that comes to mind is sacrifice. He sacrificed so many things. He passed up a $3.6 million deal with the NFL to enlist in the Army. He ultimately sacrificed his life. I found this quote the other day and in the Easter season I find it extremely fitting:
Only two defining forces have ever offered to die for you, Jesus Christ and the American Soldier. One died for your soul, the other for your freedom. - Anonymous
Out here I see sacrifices everyday. Some of them big like troops lying their lives on the line for their friends, some medium sized like an airman having to watch the birth of his child on Skype , and some small like a soldier offering to let someone cut him in line. I am surrounded so much by their lives, I seem to forget about the sacrifices people have made in my own.
I was talking to my coworker yesterday about how excited I am getting for my vacation home. It will be the first time I will visit home in 8 months. He said, “It will be even harder on them when you leave this time.” It hadn’t even occurred to me, but I’m sure it’s true. My family is so amazing that they never mention if they are worried about me, but I’m sure it does take a toll when they see the latest news bulletin about 480 Taliban prisoners escaping in the city I currently live. My parents have sacrificed so much for me to have a comfortable life, and here I am volunteering to go to a warzone.
|My parents and I at my college graduation|
In the 7 months I have been out here my parents have remodeled a bathroom, put siding on the house, a new deck has been installed, and they have painted virtually every room. I feel like a tool admitting this, but you see until 7 months ago I was still cashing the checks from the bank of Mom and Dad. They still paid for my car and insurance and the occasional thing I needed along the way. I can remember my parents talking about wanting to get siding literally years ago, I even recall talk of remodeling the bathroom when I was in third grade! But, they didn’t. They made sure we had all we could ever want or need before they thought of themselves. It’s a selflessness that I know I couldn’t maintain right now. It makes me think of all my friends that are mothers and fathers with a sense of awe. They sacrifice.
We had a Wounded Warrior (soldier harmed in the line of duty waiting to get therapy and be sent back out in the field, or go home) who volunteered in the center recently. He is the same age as me, 26. He has a wife and three children. We discussed our lives and how foreign the other one’s life seems. He talked about the different ideas he had in high school like nursing school, or opening his own chain restaurant, but now he needs to do what is best for his family. I tried to picture if my life was his, but I couldn’t. It seemed like this parallel universe that I would have to fall down a magic hole or walk into a mythical wardrobe to enter. At the ripe old age of 26 I don’t feel like I am mature enough or selfless enough to have children, let alone at 18. He sacrificed.
When I was in Africa with Natalie she talked about having feelings of guilt. Guilt that she had so much. She is living in a mud hut with no running water or electricity and she is feeling guilty?!?! She sacrifices.
I have heard a quote at some point in my life (probably from a sappy romantic comedy) that it's not a sacrifice; it's love. That Meg Ryan or Sandra Bullock, or whoever it was, was right. Because when it's love, for your children, spouse, job, country, or ideals, it doesn't seem like a sacrifice to you, it's your life and you wouldn't want it any other way.