Dear NE, I miss you.  Love Bagz
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I'll start by saying I attempted to post this blog about a week ago and it was deleted off FN.  Then some undersea internet cables were cut, keeping me from logging on at all.  I shall attempt to cover the valid points in what I shall name:  The Re-Blog.

 I've seen many people express their thanks and appreciation to both myself and my family for my service in the military.  I've gotten teary-eyed in airports when people see us coming and applaud and hoot and holler.  Many soldiers have, it's half relief to be stateside (although it happened in Ireland too, fancy that) and half relief that what we do does not go unnoticed.  We appreciate every random handshake or pat on the back or smile or kind word.  It's an awesome feeling that people around us don;t know us personally, but appreciate what we do and aren;t afraid to show it in public. 

 One of my fondest memories was on my way back to Atlanta when an older lady insisted she buy me a drink at the airport.  We shot the **** for awhile and it turns out she has a son in Iraq, and she considers it her contribution to the effort to greet every soldier she sees with a thank you or a hug.  Want to make a soldier's day?  Run up and give him a hug in an airport.  I'm telling you, the sheer emotional force of collective, anonymous gratitude makes fighting a war and coming back much better.  But enough with the dreams of redeployment. 

A little background: My older brother Jim, 25 recently moved to NYC with his wife to pursue his acting career.  He graduated from URI with a BA in drama.  He's not exactly the blacksheep of the family, seeing as my Dad is also heavily into the theater business with his recent retirement from the Navy.  Moving on, here is an excerpt from an e-mail he sent me:

"Im doing pretty solid at my sales job, turned about 1500 dollars in sales the last two days.  I'm also beginning my aikido lessons next week, and starting new improv comedy work.  I figure when you get back, since you never saw me in RI, you'll have to catch me in NY?!?  Sweet.  Sara didn't end up coming for new years, and jamie stayed home sick, so I went and partied up with Tim and the sissy crew.  One **** in particular really pissed me off, and I was kind of (super) rude with him.  The little f@# had the nerve to apologize to me when he realized where you were, like you ran away with my lucky charms and removed a testicle.  I put him in his place  (seventh circle of hell, full of naked chicks) and then drank some wine for ya.  and ate brie .  Jeez.  It was wicked fun though.  I hope this random email with horrible spacing and no separating paragraphs finds you in good humor, and holla back!"

 Jim is not homophobic, actually quite the opposite.  He is immerged in the theater world, where he has grown to such an understanding of the gay community he is remarkably comfortable in situations where I would raise eyebrows.  His point rings true with me: Nobody should be apologetic either to me, or my family about my current location and job.

His reaction to the apology was not unique either, my Mom sent me an e-mail with a similar tale of apology and angry reaction.  Why would somebody say they're sorry to hear where I am?  Did I walk out of the house one day, trip fall and wake up in Iraq?  Of course not.  Along with every other member of our volunteer military, I signed up to serve a greater purpose, a greater good that I believe strongly in.  My family is wholeheartedly supportive that I am dedicated enough in my beliefs to join the military in a time of war.  Sympathy is not asked for, and is deservedly rejected when offered.

 I sympathize with hurricane katrina victims, I sympathize with people whose houses and livelihoods are destroyed by hurricanes and tornadoes.  More importantly, I sympathize with the general iraqi population that has had their lives ruined by the influx of violence that currently exists in iraq.  Everybody over here signed up to serve a nation in conflict and should do so with their heads raised high.

To offer a family member sympathy is comparable to wiping the good-hearted intent of the servicemember away and replacing it with some mis-aimed, mis-informed notion of bad luck to end up over here.  This is not the case.  Does everyone agree with the war?  Of course not.  Does everyone agree the American service members are working towards installing a peaceful government?  I hope so.  Nobody hates war more than soldiers and their families, keep that in mind, but we do what we have to because our nation asks it of us. 

It's a far shot from my college life in Newport RI serving in the middle of a desert with hateful people trying to harm us, but you'll never hear me complain about the fight.  I'll **** about water shortage, internet outage, generators going down, but the mission we're doing over here is a good one, and I'll do it again when I get called up.  If someone actually in the **** can defend the war, I hope it rings true with the nation whose mission I'm on as well.

 For my last note, I'll leave you with the appropriate way of saying thanks.  Courtesy of Lynch here on FN and posted in my profile.  He's not the only one to show his thanks, but he's the most recent.

LYNCHisOTGY* BS CB MS 2179 | about 13 hours ago Hey, thanks for sending my Friend Invite and serving our country. I can't praise you enough for it. it's a privilege to even be on the same site as you two. Now, I've never met BSchwartz, but as still consider him a part of my family and keep him in my mind all the time, and I hope that you will let me accept you into my mind too. That's why my name has BS and CB in my name, and also MS for my cousin who also is in Iraq. I'm always thinking. about my family, my friends, BSchwartz, and now you. Thank you and God Bless.

You're most welcome Lynch.  I'll be in a uniform for many years to come, and thank you for your support.

-Bagz

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