The Deployment Diary

Monday, March 08, 2004

About That Photo-Op...

Beyond the classless button I posted about last night provided by the woman who hopes to be First Lady, within the same article this was mentioned:

He [Kerry] also spoke about the recent Bush Thanksgiving visit to our military in Iraq, carrying a platter laden down with a fake turkey, smiling for a photo op.

That ruffled my feathers. I was one of many spouses left spending that holiday alone. I'm lucky. It was my first Thanksgiving since meeting my husband that we were not together. In this lifestyle, I consider that no small accomplishment.

I planned to cook our regular Thanksgiving dinner. My Mother said I was crazy to cook that much food. After all, I was only feeding myself and our two small picky-eater children. I wanted to keep the holiday as "normal" as possible for our babies though. Our daughter loves Thanksgiving. She calls it "The Great Feast." Well, she especially loves the desserts - but she suffers through the vegetables to get there ;).

When the day came, I did scale back. I made our "must haves" and left out a few of the casseroles and other dishes that would have just turned into "The Great Feast" for the dogs.

The night before, I had called Mother while I was getting my ham ready to go in the oven. Usually, my husband is in the kitchen with me around 11 pm while I get it ready. Something about being in the kitchen alone - the night that marks the start of the magical holiday season made me want to cry. The fix? Why of course! Call Mother ;).

I bake my ham slowly overnight. We make a mustard and brown sugar coating - and by morning the house smells divine! It is the smell of the holidays. You wake up hungry! The kitchen is warm from the oven being on all night, cold winter morning - waking to have my husband off for several days in a row...anticipating the big dinner and soon the decorating of the house for the holidays - it's just a wonderful day!

This past Thanksgiving, the magic just wasn't there of course. No old movies the night before while waiting for time to put the ham in the oven. No laying in bed talking and laughing until the wee hours because we didn't have to wake to any alarm (other than our babies). No morning run to Burger King to get us a quick breakfast so I don't have to start Thanksgiving dinner while cleaning up breakfast dishes.

It was just me and it made me sad.

The babies and I made it through dinner. I cleaned off the table and got the dishes rinsed and ready to wash. I put the leftovers in bowls, so we could "fix us a plate" (as they say in the south) later in the afternoon if we got hungry. Then I headed into the living room for a small break before I washed up the dishes.

I don't watch the news when my babies are up. If they saw the desert uniform on TV they'd ask if that's where Daddy is - or if it were something bad, may worry Daddy was there. The news is only on in the evenings after they are safely tucked in for the night. During the day, I use the internet for keeping tabs on what is going on in the world. That way, I can still feel as though I'm in the loop and not worry my children - or expose them to other "news" I'd rather them not be aware of at their young ages.

I visited Fox News. The headline Bush Makes Surprise Visit to Troops in Baghdad [not original article] completely floored me. I quickly clicked the link and scanned the article. I couldn't believe it! I jumped up and turned the Fox News Channel on. They were discussing the trip and the fact he had flown INTO Baghdad International in Air Force One no less!

A lonely, sad day quickly turned into yells of support in this living room. I was smiling from ear to ear, I had tears rolling down my cheeks. Then, they played the coverage of when they introduced the President - and the eruption of the troops jumping to their feet in excited applause.

I saw the emotion on his face, I heard his voice crack. This is not some swanky talking President who knows all the right words to dig himself out of a hole. No, this is a President whose actions speak louder than words. That day, his love for those he leads was apparent.

He not only boosted the morale of those soldiers who were lucky enough to meet him in person. He did a lot for those of us left behind who were facing the holiday alone. I will be forever grateful for what he did for MY outlook that day. He turned a somber day into a day of celebration.

Within hours, the democrats were already trying to lessen the excitement and once again break our raised morale. The terms "photo op," "using our troops for political gain" and many others were already making their rounds by way of the talking heads. It's like I posted on the Kerry site itself - none dared to say the same when he visited with the firefighters after September 11th. Service members and their families, at the very least, deserve the same respect. Don't try to lessen what it did for us that day because you hate this President. Don't try to take our high point in a sea of low points away from us - on a holiday no less! Don't make what this Commander in Chief did for our troops and their families a pawn in your political game. It was a kind gesture that he did not have to make. One that did so much for this military wife left behind.

After the standing ovation and a small joke he said, "Thanks for inviting me. I can't think of finer folks to have Thanksgiving dinner with than you all."

I can't either Mr. President. And thank you for not only telling us you care, but showing us and the country as well. What you did that day for me - well, I won't ever forget. You helped me break out of the dreary mood. You helped me get a second wind to make it through the big holiday that was approaching. You put a smile on our brave soldiers' faces. You did the same for those back home who love them and are patiently waiting for their return. You are not only a great man, you have a great heart. Thank you for caring about us on that day. Thank you for showing us instead of just offering us a token speach before having dinner with your own family.

We won't forget.

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