My Turn: Our beloved soldiers

Service members and their families make sacrifices for our country

Posted: Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Over the years I have grown more and more interested in history. So much of our world has changed shape, and yet at its core, the same life still exists. I am fascinated by the advances our world has made. I am ever in awe of the hurdles we've crossed, and I am continually grateful for the efforts of the people before us.

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Today, so many of us are quick to complain about the inequities or common hassles of our daily lives, which for the most part consist of such horrors as a computer crashing, a $3 cup of coffee spilling, losing our keys, getting caught in traffic (maybe not in Juneau so much) or not being able to do everything instantaneously. Gone are the days of heavy, manual labor, travel that takes days or weeks - not hours - and gone are the days when communicating with someone actually takes a decent amount of effort. Luxury is now the expected standard, and anything less is a terrific offense.

Of greatest fascination and gratitude are the lives thousands of men and women have lived in the service of our country. Great sacrifices were made, and selflessness was necessary to accomplish things. Men and women gave up physical comforts and luxuries, as well as comforts of the heart and soul. Women watched as their loves walked into danger, not knowing when they'd hear from them or if they'd see them return. Even during this, they still made further sacrifices and kept giving and kept pushing on with great strength and resiliency.

Never did I think, I would one day become a woman devoted to a life such as this. But here I am today, with a man overseas. I am subjected to days of not hearing from him. My one relief is writing letter after letter to him - never knowing how long before he will actually receive it. The nature of the beast, war, may be completely different from that of our previous wars, but the pain of missing someone is no less harsh. The sweetness of a voice, long since heard, is no less sweet. The lingering fear is no less real, and time away feels no shorter.

With the announcement of extended tours for the Army, my heart goes out to those families affected. My other half is in the Marines and not affected by the extension. Nevertheless, tour dates are not set in stone for any branch. I just have to silently hope and pray. I know that there are great sacrifices that families make and that service members gladly step up to and put themselves on the line for, in the name of our country.

Several years ago, I had read Elton Engstrom's "Cry with me for our beloved soldiers," and it permeated my heart and mind. I never forgot the weight of this article (March 3, 2004). Shortly thereafter, I moved to Southern California, and suddenly found myself surrounded by military men and women. As I watched their daily lives, in the back of my mind I always remembered this article.

But now, today, reading the article once more with my Marine on the other side of the world, I know the full intensity of the letter and Engstrom's sentiment. No longer is it a beautiful publication, but personally meaningful. This publication will never be forgotten, and I am glad to know that Engstrom was able to find a thread of the eloquence of times past, in today's world.

It is still here, and the core of our being is still as beautiful as it ever was.

• Jennifer Quinto is a Juneau resident.

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