Note: I'm re-posting a post originally made on November 17, 2006. I'll be doing Any Solider again this year, my own little Thankgiving tradition, and I'd love it if any of you were moved to join me.
I don't know if I've made this clear before now, but I'm sure it's not a surprise: I'm against the war in Iraq. I marched against it before it started (and just after), I've written countless letters against it, I'm against it. I think it's a bad idea. I don't think we ever should have invaded. I think it's bad, bad, bad.
That being said, I have a little tradition I started for myself several Thanksgivings ago that I thought I'd share. The first year, I took up a collection at my workplace to do it, since then I've been doing it on a smaller scale on my own. I go over to anysoldier.com and pick out a couple of wish lists, head over to Target to shop, and send a couple of care packages to folks serving abroad. Particularly to women serving abroad.
So why, since I am against the war, do I do that?
Well, to begin with, I don't think that the young men and women who are suffering on the ground have much say in the policy that put them there. Less say than I have in it, probably, due to their lower age and lower socioeconomics. It's not their fault they are there.
Secondly, I empathize with them, for a kind of strange reason. When I was the age some of them are, I was in my first year of college, and I was so, so homesick. I was in a safe, nice place, which I had chosen, which was only a couple hundred miles from home, and I was miserable. And I seriously cannot comprehend how much worse that it would have been to been in a dangerous situation, with few amenities, in a foreign country, where you had the risk of having to kill or be killed. It's beyond my capacity for creative thought. So I feel personally responsible for doing a little something to try to alleviate the homesickness these kids (and they are kids) must feel. For me, nothing helped more than a package from home, and I think it must be the same for them. And I feel especially for the women, whose lists so often ask for things like deodorant and tampons, as they are in a place that has to be alienating to them on a whole other level (both in terms of the military and in terms of the country).
Finally, I believe in being the change you want to see in the world. The change I want to see is for our government not to ever feel that it's the right thing to do to send kids to kill and die a million miles away for spurious reasons. But that's not something I have much capacity to change right now. What I do have the capacity to change, albeit in a very small way, is how horrible it is for those kids. And I want to do that.
Be forewarned that the website is sort of sickeningly ra-ra USA and doesn't mesh with many (if any) of the political views you or I may hold. To me, that doesn't matter. I can look past that, for a minute, and try to just be kind. I think that maybe if more people could try to do that, we wouldn't be in this mess.
Also, if you decide to send a soldier a care package this Thanksgiving (or some other time), please include a letter. From what I've read/heard, personal letters are reallly appreciated.