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Posts Tagged ‘US Army’

Pilgrimage Statistics

Cumulative Days Riding:  170                             Cumulative Days Blogging: 155

Today’s Mileage: 5                                                    Total Trip Mileage: 1134

35th Engineer Battalion

Greeting to all my fellow pilgrims!  It is good to finally climb back onto the bike and report to you all what has happened in the past weeks.  I had taken to the roadways and drove to Missouri to attend my eldest son’s graduation from US Army training.  I then shared a day and a half drive with him back to South Carolina.  The trip back was the rainiest stretch of travel I have ever undertaken in my life.  It rained steadily from Memphis to Atlanta, my thoughts and prayers go out to the people of Mississippi and Alabama impacted by the string of tornados that were figuratively “in our rear view mirror!”

I enjoyed the opportunity to visit an area of the country I had never had the opportunity to see before, the Ozarks.  The tree covered hills, rushing rivers and streams and pastures populated with cows and horses were idyllic.  In many ways it reminded me of the upstate in South Carolina, for I saw a lot of timber haulers, pickup trucks and trailer homes! 

Standing out from the crowd!

I experienced a great deal of pride watching my son’s graduation as he had distinguished himself in his training and received the US Army Engineers Trailblazer Award,  a distinction granted to only about 5% of the recruits.  The award proclaimed: For meritorious achievement as a combat engineer Pvt.  Edwards distinguished himself by exceeding course standards for all combat engineer occupational skills training levels of motivation, discipline, teamwork, and leadership throughout the training cycle, signifying him as one of Charlie Company’s finest.

He now stands tall and proud and is excited about making his way to Fort Lewis Washington where he will be assigned to a specific unit.  The drive to Missouri afforded me an opportunity to reminisce about the joy and sorrows of parenthood and the time I spent with him as he grew up.  I know that this mixture of ups (joys) and downs (stress and sadness) are part of the process of parenting, and a teenager’s need to find their own identity and path in life.  I am excited about the growth he has shown in the military.  I am excited that he will be seeing new places and meeting new people.  These can be valuable transformative experiences.  But I am also apprehensive as I know he will cross paths with problematic people, and be forced to make problematic choices.  He very likely will go to war and be faced with death!  I will save my thoughts on that prospect for another day.  I look forward, with mixed feelings, to his life unfolding and my watching from the sidelines… but I have no other choice!

Ho'oponopono Prayer

The title for today’s posting came from last Sunday’s sermon by the Rev. Pat Jobe.  It is a Hawaiian prayer!  Prayers come in a number of different forms and this one does not fit easily into the standard categories (e.g., Petition, Confession, Adoration, Intercession, Meditation, Thanksgiving, and Consecration).  Given that it does not make any reference to the divine it functions very much like a therapy or self-help device.  It offers a four step process to deal with feelings of sadness and anger at people or events in our lives.  These many represent current situations or feelings we are carrying from our past.  The first step is to declare “I’m sorry,” the second step is to ask “forgive me,” the third step is to declare “thank you,” and the final step is to proclaim “I love you!”  Listening to Pat talk about the prayer and its usage made me realize that I needed to repeat this prayer with respect to both of my sons and my long deceased father.

Proud warriors at ease!

Years ago as I prepared to become a father I remember thinking about my own father, about the pain and sorrow he visited upon his family.  I cursed him for the scars we (his children) carried forward into our futures.  I knew on some level that he carried his own scars, for he was the product of an emotionally distant alcoholic father.  However, the pain was strong and not easily extinguished.  I swore to myself, as I awaited the arrival of my first son that I would not make the mistakes my father made.  I would be emotionally involved and invested in his life at the same time I would let him become who he needed to be!

I am happy to report that I did not make the mistakes my father made!  However, sadly it seems that I made all new ones!  I’ve come to believe that you cannot be a parent, a partner, a teacher or a friend without making what in hindsight can be called, mistakes.  We cannot be “loving caring involved human beings” without some times disappointing or falling short of the hopes and expectations of those we love.  I realize now that my father was just doing the best he could.  I don’t make excuses for his bad choices, but I do forgive him for them.  I thank him for the many gifts he gave me, including an interest in art and nature and my mechanical abilities.  I am sorry for the frustration and sadness I know I visited on his life, especially as a cocky teenager and I do love him and regret that he never saw my successes and his grandsons.

I apologize to my sons, I am sorry for the things I have done that might have hurt or dismayed them.  I ask for their forgiveness.  Even if I knew of all the mistakes I’ve made I could not go back and change them, none of us can, so please forgive me!   I have received so much joy from having them in my life.  I have gained a youthful sense of awe and wonder as I experienced the world through their eyes.  I have sense the possibilities of a future that extends far beyond my own time on this earth.  I love you both and I pray for your safety.  I pray that you have sons and daughters that bring you as much joy and provide you with as many insights as you have brought into my life.  I will love you whether you succeed or fail, I will love you as much when you leave as when you come home.  I will love you where ever you travel, whether I still walk this earth or whether you are on your own.  My thoughts and prayers will always be with you!

I recently posted and old poem I had written about the sadness and regret I felt that my father and I had not talked and shared our thoughts and feelings as adults.  The following represents a follow up to that poem:

Trip Partners

young man

crisp uniform

ribbons and medals

a stoic face

hum of the highway

engine sounds

then he speaks

stories of intelligent actions

in a passionate voice

old man

casusal cloths

joyful smile

pride filled heart

a wish has been granted

a poem fulfilled

father and a son

two men – two voices

on a cross country trip

past troubles and sadness

in the rear view mirror

pushing through the driving rain

ahead of dangerous storms

racing forward

toward blue sky

toward sunlight

toward the future

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Newly minted soldier!

Greetings fellow pilgrims!  I had stepped away from my stationary bike for several days in preparation for a cross country trip that starts this morning.  I will be driving to Fort Leonard Wood Missouri to witness my son Max’s graduation from US Army engineer training.  He will then drive back with me on Friday and Saturday. 

I look forward to seeing him and I am proud of the seriousness with which he has training.  My apprehension is about the likelihood that he will be travelling to Afganistan some time soon.  I will spend my drive today sorting out my thoughts and feelings on the topic.  In the mean time I have reposted my Jan 5th blog which was the day Max left for bootcamp.  I am especially looking forward to my drive home with him, as the second poem notes (below) I never had such an opportunity with my own father.  I will have more to say about the graduation and the trip in the days to come.  Hold us in your prayers!

Jan 5, 2010

 We watched at noon today as my son Max walked to a waiting van. Along with six other young men, they started a journey into manhood as warriors for our nation in a time of war.  He carries on a tradition, from father to son.  My grandfather an Army veteran of WWI sent his oldest son to the Army in WW2. He sent his youngest son, my father, into the Navy to fight in Korea. My father sent his oldest son, yours truly, into the Navy during the Vietnam War.  Now I send my son Max into the Army to likely fight in our latest war. All of the “Edwards boys” came back in one piece; I pray that Max will continue with that tradition! 

  Remembering all who serve!

I searched the internet for a Soldier’s Prayer and found many.  But none that was satisfactory for the feelings of relief, excitement and pride that I feel at this moment.  They use names for God I do not use, and ask for things I would not ask.  So I send my son off with two poems.  Both were written in the past, one a product of my pride at his earlier warrior efforts.  The second written with memories of my father in mind, longing for a dialogue that could never be, a dialogue I hope to someday have with my son. 

  War Games 

  

Warrior on the line!
Waves of geese 

    Pass overhead 

      Squawking in support 

As the ground forces 

   Surge forward 

      Tanks on the line 

   Fleet fast infantry 

      On the corners 

   HQ in the rear 

 The defense 

    Meets them head on 

       With a crash of pads  

          And helmets 

 Generals  

   Shout orders  

       From the sidelines 

JV football practice 

   My eldest son 

      Mans the right side 

         Of the attacking line 

  Handshake and a handoff to the Army!

What I Knew Could Never Be 

 Its taken a quarter 

 Of a lifetime 

 For me to learn  

 How to speak. 

 I was not raised 

To have opinions, 

 I was raised  

 To mouth my father’s words. 

I was raised to act proper 

 To be seen and not heard. 

 Don’t follow the crowd 

Follow me was the message. 

 He prefered to have me 

Be different from my peers? 

 Not to challenge him 

 With my questions of youth? 

 My spirit left home 

 Before my body. 

 It journeyed to the sea, 

 Driven away 

 In search of acceptance 

 And the wonders I knew to be. 

 I saw my father 

Only a few times in adulthood. 

 Superior I was, but sad I felt 

 At what I knew could never be, 

 A dialogue between father and son, 

 Two men, two voices 

Be safe son and know that you are loved! 

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