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28 May 2008

The Grass is Always Greener ....

...on the other side of the world.

The above soldier (Warrant Officer 1 Brook Turner) misses HOME.

So while stationed in Iraq in 2004 he asked his wife to send some grass seed, determined to replicate a slice of his home state of Oregon in the 3' x 7' plot of desert behind his 'hooch' (trailer). In the 125 degree Iraqi heat, he tended to his grass 3 times per day with water from his bathroom and a hand rake sent from his wife. As we can see, he carefully maintained his lawn with a pair of scissors.

A few hundred clicks away, at the Al Udeid Air Base in Doha, Qatar, soldiers there prepared their own garden too. One that each new rotation of Airmen inherited from the last.

So, how does your lawn look?

The connective element to home is critical to our deployed troops. The stressors many of these young soldiers and Marines are being asked to endure are tremendous. Most will be stronger in character, taller in the saddle and keener in their perspective when they return. Some will not.

Army Sergeant Carl Quam Jr. stationed outside of Tikrit, Iraq grew plentiful crops of food including corn, cauliflower, cucumbers and peas for his fellow soldiers. Gardening was more than just was a way to connect to his home in North Dakota: "It helped me cope with missing them."

Even in World War I, Allied Troops cultivated what became known as War Gardens. Not in the "victory garden" nomenclature referring to growing gardens stateside to feed our deployed troops, but something far more organic, more grounded.

"Gardens in the war exemplified the struggle to create something normal in the most abnormal conditions," writes Kenneth Helphand in his book, Defiant Gardens.

Being deployed can be an arduous affair. And being deployed with little or no connective tissue between where you are and where you've been can be
distracting, depressing or fatal. Yet it has been well documented that we would rather buy a weed whacker on sale at Sears than honor our fallen soldiers.

Back in
January we spoke about Gratitude. Perhaps it is time we all revisit the topic since our grass doesn't seem to be as green as it once was...


Tismee2 said...

What a great post Mike. That small patch of grass is very significant to them all I would guess.
And it is VERY green!

rambler said...

Wow! I'm glad I came back. I really appreciate your message!

Michael M. said...

Thanks Gail/Tismee2: I don't think I'll grumble quite so much when I have to go mow all my LUCKY I am!

Michael M. said...

Rambler: ...and I'm glad you came back. :)

It's not my message so much, I'm just restating what is already out there...We all have it easy huh?

Dana said...

Thank you! When I was stationed in Korea, there wasn't a Christmas tree to be found. My mom sent a little 3 ft tree with lights and decorations - it was that connectivity to a familiar place that made the holiday a little less lonely!

Debbie Yost said...

It's funny (and sad) to think about the things our soldiers miss. It also makes me appreciate even more what I have and the sacrifices they are making for all of us.

Michael M. said...

Dana: a portable "war garden"! I imagine you get a bit irked when people fight over who has the bigger tree at Xmas.

Perspective is such a valuable thing!

Michael M. said...

Hi Deb!: It is humbling to hear back from my friend who is in Iraq (and has been for 5 years) after we send him and his crew a package. You'd think it was Christmas, his birthday and 4th of July all in one they are soooo grateful to get something from "back home".

Two Date Diva said...

Great post! We take for granted simple things like tending the grass (which for many of us is a mundane chore)could be therpeutic for a soldier living in Iraq. Perspective is an invaluable thing.

Michael M. said...

Thanks Diva: I'm thinking about sending some of my weeds to my buddy in Iraq...maybe he can start to fill in some of the barren desert. :)