Sunday, February 15, 2009

In a Time of War

In a Time of War by Bill Murphy, Jr. is a powerful, moving, heart-breaking book.

I cried through most of it.

The book details the lives of several members of the West Point Class of 2002 as they graduate and begin military careers that take them almost immediately to Iraq and/or Afghanistan. (I will not reveal what happens in the book, but obviously there are things in it that none of us would ever want to have happen.)

I hesitated, debated, wrestled with myself about whether I should write a post about this book that moved me so deeply. I felt a huge need to discuss it, to express my feelings, to share it with others. At the same time, most of the friends with whom I would want to discuss this book have loved ones currently deployed to Iraq and/or Afghanistan, about to deploy to Iraq and/or Afghanistan, just back from Iraq and/or Afghanistan and likely to return, or have children at West Point or in ROTC and thus likely to deploy somewhere in the not too distant future.

And thus, it did not seem very sensitive of me to talk about it.

If I were in a similar position, I doubt I would have read the book.

So many of my close friends have loved ones serving their country in a time of war. They know all about separation and sacrifice.

Yet, the irony, to me, is that most of America remains oblivious to the sacrifices our service members and their families are making, often again and again and again. They may watch the evening news, put “We Support Our Soldiers” bumper stickers on their cars, even send Girl Scout cookies to our troops overseas, but their lives have not really been affected in any tangible way.

I recently read a quote that said (and I paraphrase): America is not at war. Soldiers are at war; America is at the mall.

Wow. That about says it all.

When I read In a Time of War, I was not only moved by the sacrifices and loss incurred by war, I was also overcome by feelings of guilt and feelings of fear.

Feelings of guilt as someone who served in the military but never in a time of war. I graduated from West Point, served my country as an Army officer at a time where we practiced our combat training against thinly disguised Soviet/Eastern Bloc forces, whether on the plains and in the forests of Germany whilst on REFORGER exercises or in the California desert at the National Training Center.

I cannot control the fact that our country was not at war when I graduated from West Point any more than I can control the fact that we were when the Class of 2002 graduated. Yet I still feel a sense of guilt: Why was I so lucky when these young men and women were not?

Feelings of fear that perhaps all mothers feel when it comes to thoughts of their children and war.

These wars – or wars like them – or wars I cannot even yet imagine – may well be raging when my children come of age to serve. I believe strongly in service to one’s nation, and clearly if our children do not serve in the military of the future, who will? Yet, I have to admit, I do not encourage my children with thoughts of joining the military. I do not tout West Point as a first choice for college. If my children told me they really wanted to join the military or go to a service academy or join ROTC, I would support them fully. But I would never push them in that direction. In all honesty, I would not even nudge them.

I come from a family with a very long tradition of military service, both as enlisted soldiers and officers: WWI, WWII, the Vietnam Era, and the Cold War. My children have two parents and a grandparent who went to West Point. Their father was a career military officer and a veteran of the first Iraq War. I admire the soldiers and young officers of today who knowingly enlist and volunteer; they KNOW they are going to make huge sacrifices. I would support my own children if they decided to serve in the military, and I would be proud of their service. But it would cause me great anguish and concern.

As it does every parent who has a child in the military in a time of war.

I worry about our country, a nation where most people never serve anything beyond themselves.

A place where the malls remain very crowded.

Saturday, February 07, 2009

"Do a little dance, make a little love..."

“Do a little dance, make a little love. Get down tonight, get down tonight…”
-- KC and the Sunshine Band

Yo, girlfriend, you need to get your act in gear.

Huh. Are you talkin’ to me?

Uhhh, yeah. Duh. I live in your head. Who the hell else would I be talking to?

I don’t know. So…..?????


What do you want???

I’m fine. Thank you for asking. And you?


Uh-uh what?!?

Uh-uh means no.

Yeah. I get that. What do you want?

No. No. No. I don’t want anything. It is YOU who wants something. YOU are the one who started this whole thing. I am just sitting here getting down to some music on my birthday.

Yeahhhhhhh. Hello. It is like KC and the Sunshine Band.

So? It IS KC and the Sunshine Band. It is not like KC and the Sunshine Band.

Yeah, whatever. So, what takes us back to the Disco Era all of a sudden?


Well, I live in your head, dear. So whatever shit you listen to, I have to listen to it, too. I am just wondering why we have gone back to the 70s.

Wellllll, I’m not really sure.

What’s that supposed to mean?

Wellllll, I just kept hearing the song playing over and over again in my head. Only I couldn’t really quite place it. I mean, I could hear the music. I could sort of fake make out the lyrics. It was killing me. I needed to know what song it was.

OK. Given that you are musically impaired, that makes sense. So, then what?

Well… I Googled for the lyrics.

I thought you said you didn’t really remember the lyrics.

Yeahhhhh. That is sort of a problem I have. I can never remember song lyrics, so I just make them up and sing the song anyway.

Well, you can’t sing, either.

I realize that. But that doesn’t mean I don’t like music. Or hear songs playing in my head all the time.

With erroneous lyrics…?????

You know what? YOU try living in my head. Try it on for size.

I DO live in your head.

Oh. Yeah. Right.

So, what did you Google for?

Well…. I could hear the music playing in my head big time. But I couldn’t quite place the lyrics. So I tried searching for: lyrics “play a little love”

“Play a little love”?????

Yeah, I didn’t think that was right.

So, what did you come up with?

Interestingly, the Grateful Dead song “Touch of Grey.”


Yeah. I’m not good at remembering song titles. I had to go listen to it. This was the one with “I will get by, I will survive.” Kinda famous. You probably heard of it.

Not really disco.

No. I get that.

So then what?

Well, I tried a few other possibilities. None of them worked.

So, then what?

I went on with my life. I went to yoga class. And as I was walking there with my son, I told him I kept hearing this song in my head. He told me to sing it.


Yeah, I know. I said I couldn’t really remember the words. But I tried the tune.


He looked at me like I was deranged. He asked me what the words were. I said I didn’t know. He said, "Give it a shot." So, I sang it.

Sang what?

Ummm. I think I sang, something like “Play a little love, do a little song…” as close to the real tune as I could get.


He looked at me and said, “Oh, I know that song!” “What is it?” I asked. “I don’t know the name,” he said, “but it goes like ‘Do a little dance, make a little love, get down tonight.” “That’s it!” I cried ecstatically.


Yeah. He got it. On the first try. Only he had no idea who sang it.

And he is how old?

Just turned fifteen.

And HE knew. But you , oh, Dancing Queen, did not?

Yes, that is true. But...

But now you know?

Yeah. Because I looked up the real lyrics. And then other people knew what it was right away. I am just bad with music. Even though I hear songs in my head all the time.

With the wrong lyrics?

Yeah, well, that’s true.

But now you have it?

Oh, yeah! I downloaded it from iTunes, and I’ve been playing it ever since. I am grooving down big time. It is awesome.

Well, Happy Birthday, girlfriend! You go, girl!

Do a little dance, make a little love. Get down tonight, get down tonight……

Friday, February 06, 2009


I have not yet written a blog post for 2009, and it is already into the second month of the year!

Not good.



My bad.

My big bad.

Will try to improve. Much to say, but I suffer from the inability to put my blog much further up than the very bottom of my priorities.


Everyone and everything else seem to come first on my to do list. Not really sure what I can do to change that. Not really sure where in my day I should be fitting this in. Granted, I seem to do much better at it when I have huge chunks of time off and/or my kids are gone visiting their dad. Maybe I should just focus on writing entries during those times.

I know, I know.

No excuse, sir!