I received an e-mail from my cousin the other day reminding me that I still have a blog that I am supposed to be maintaining. Oh yeah. Well, I’m getting short. My time here in Iraq is in the final weeks. Of course, I can’t tell you exactly when I’m leaving or I’d have to do something cliche like kill you. Regardless, I should still tell you what’s going on.
First of all, we just celebrated our nation’s independence from British rule a couple of days ago. With it, there was some red glare of rockets — just like the song — provided by the local Iraqis who hate us. Okay, maybe that’s a little judgmental. They could have been trying to get us in the spirit of things by shooting at us; who knows. Either way, the weather was perfect for an indirect fire attack with dust allowing for visibility of about 20-30 feet and a Mars-like ambiance courtesy of the orange-red haze.
It’s funny, for the last few years on this date I find myself reconsidering if winning that war of independence was such a good idea. Don’t get me wrong. I didn’t start thinking this up on my own, and I still love the idea of my country. It’s just that a British friend on mine planted this seed in my head a few years ago when when we where making banter:
“Yeah, we handed you your asses in the war. Those red coats made nice targets.”
“Yes, indeed because you lacked the civility to fight proper. Besides, we burnt your White House to the ground in 1812.”
“So, we rebuilt it and we are still our own country today!”
“Yes, yes, but you colonials still want to be one of us. Look at Virginia. They still regard themselves as a commonwealth. Visit Williamsberg and the British flag is flown everywhere. The West of your country is just a colony to the East just like you were to us previously. Face it, you want to be one of us.”
Hmm, I’m not sure I buy it all together, but he’s on to something.
There is a sense of history that favors British culture in places like Virginia and Pennsylvania. Obviously, those places were settled by the Brits. And, as far as colonialism goes, those of us who descended from settlers in places like Arizona are loosing (or have lost) the uniqueness of the local culture to the cookie-cutter culture of the neo-carpetbaggers of the East with their big chain stores and restaurants. It is like colonialism all over again.
Although, after working with the British for six months, I can say that there are things I respect about their culture. I mean, they see thinking as virtue, not disobedience. They love a good battle of the wits. I watched various ranks go at it on a regular basis is Basrah. It was like verbal fencing, yet polite. Where as, we would regard that kind of behavior in our ranks as disrespectful and follow through with punishment if the senior had no comeback.
They also got something right with those six month deployments. That is about the burnout point for a lot of Joes. I can see leadership needing to stay on deployment longer, but not the grunts. I know some officers who say service is priviledge (while they collect fat checks), but to most of us enlisted, it’s a job.
Oh, and my favorite benefit they have is if you get out of the military before completing 20 years service, you still qualify for a partial pension, unlike us where it is the whole 20 years or nothing. Poverty sucker!
On the other side, we have better equipment to help fight the wars and dental programs to help us eat over cooked, dust covered meat at our Independence Day barbecues.