Saturday, March 3, 2007

Harlem Mom in Tennessee

Clarksville is a military town. I have never been on an army base or seen so many people in fatigues. It’s very different from being in Harlem. Fort Campbell lies on the Kentucky- Tennessee border between Hopkinsville, KY and Clarksville, TN where I was visiting.

I asked various people what it was like having a family member serve in the Iraq war. I wanted to know what the media doesn’t convey about being a soldier and being separated from family. Our country is so involved in the politics of war; I wanted to understand the people fighting in the war. I was connecting with people just like me, but they weren’t stay at home moms. Here is some of what I learned.

One person I spoke with expressed to me that the world cannot understand the sacrifice of serving in the military. Another said “…it’s unexplainable, imagine carrying an eight year old blown to pieces in your arms. How can you even start to make sense of that….”

“…and what about the mom with three kids whose husband is away. She cannot afford daycare for all three kids so she has to stay at home. They should make a reality show about that! People in the military do not make that much money. People still have to struggle.”

The resonating theme among most of the people I spoke with was that entering the army provided an opportunity for a job, to pay off debt, learn a skill and serve their country of course. The reality of being sent into combat was not as apparent as some may think. When most entered the army they did not think they would be called to war or asked to provide services outside of their expertise.

A mechanic for army vehicles said “…all of the sudden you are killing people and trying to keep yourself from being killed…you cannot prepare yourself for that reality…it’s frightening and I hated it…when I came back home I thought I was ok, but I am not. I am not the same person I was when I left.”

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