Guam. Really?

Guam does not usually add stress to my life. It is a little dot in the Pacific and can be hard to spot on a map if you don’t know where to look. The island is hot, humid, and beautiful. The people are abundantly kind, generous, and friendly. It is very laid-back. I know this because I used to live there. I have a lot of family there. And unless a big typhoon is forecast, Guam doesn’t keep me up at night. This is in stark contrast to my current island, Manhattan.


Guam…..(photo credit, chotda)

New York City skyline

Not Guam

For many people in the Pacific Rim (and beyond) the news from North Korea lately has caused some anxiety. My mom is one of those people and she asked if any of my troops, “had heard anything at work.” She was looking for some kind of reassurance. I told her that no one is going to tell me “anything.” But I called one of the guys anyway and he confirmed my suspicions about how National Security works: Random civilians are not on the need-to-know list. Then he kindly called my mom to tell her that everyone is paying close attention, is highly trained, deeply dedicated, and other things that helped her feel more at ease.

My danger plate is full

When it comes to danger, I got used to worrying about troops in the Middle East. When you know people in harm’s way, the news feels personal. After a while, I learned to do what many military families do… limit how much news I watch. I would give myself a CNN “time-out.”

My first “time-out” occurred after I thought my adopted soldier’s base was attacked and overrun. The initial information in the news matched his area. It turns out it happened at a base close by: COP (Combat Outpost) Keating. It was a horrible battle. Because there were casualties, there was a mandatory communication blackout while next of kin are notified. It was weeks before I found out if my soldier was okay. During those weeks I poured over every article trying to find information on him.

Even though that was years ago, there have been others that I’ve prayed for in different situations. So you can understand why I am not emotionally prepared at this time to take on additional worry-regions. If one area of the world wants to flare up, I’m afraid I’m going to have to insist that another area calm down. Of course, I dont want that flare-up to be where my family is, or yours, or people in general. In fact, I would simply prefer an outbreak of world peace.

The safety zone

I was relieved when one of my soldiers left Iraq and got transferred to Korea. I figured I don’t have to worry about him now. But the truth is, “less safe” can happen anytime, anywhere. Troops are on call 24/7 and can be sent anywhere, anytime. They don’t get the luxury of saying they are weary of conflict. One soldier wrote me, “You know who hates war? Those of us that have to do the fighting and pay the price.” But they raised their hands to serve for those they love and millions of random civilians. So I will bring my hands together to pray for their safety and ours. I will never take a “time-out” from that.

© Gina left the mall, 2013

21 thoughts on “Guam. Really?

  1. we are never really “relaxed” regarding our loved ones well being. many of our service members are killed each year in training exercises. we are in a constant state of alert 24/7. we save every voice mail and record every detail of family events our military family members attend. we even sometimes, look for the government car outside when bad news hits the news channels. we wait, we meditate, we pray, we blog, we teach others, and volunteer through the experience of being a member of the 1%. 8 to 10 family members are affected by every 1 service members deployment.

    • Charll, it’s hard to imagine not truly relaxing for the 3-20 years an enlistment can last. But your thoughtful comment helps paint a picture. When most people save voicemails or record family details, they are free to do so simply for sentimental reasons. The “just in case” element doesn’t come up. This is yet another everyday thing that differs. As you know, deployment has many more…like bedtime stories.

      I remember when the reports of the horrific base attack came out with my adopted soldier’s division, task force name, area landmarks near him…I burst into tears. Then I thought, wait a minute… I’m a complete stranger. What must his wife be going through? I did not have to look for or fear a government car outside my home.

      I know that 1% of our population serves. And even though their 8-10 loved ones didn’t raise their hands, I know they serve as well (and some like the little boy Jack I wrote about in “Long-Distance Rescue” struggle with it) So I thank you for all you do. For the hours and days you’ve spent waiting, meditating, praying, blogging, teaching and volunteering. And while many of us will never be in your shoes, we will stand by your side. Wishing and praying and rooting for nothing but the best for you.

  2. As you know, Gina, my brother served three years as a marine in the Korean War, and came home badly psychologically scarred. His entire platoon save him perished in that conflict. Now to even contemplate the thought of more deaths, Koreans and Americans, happening in that distant place fills me with a dreadful sense of deja vu and futility.

    • NP,
      What I understand of world politics can be summed up in a word: nothing. I have zero comprehension of why anyone would want to cause or relive such pain and suffering, for their own people and for others. Watching the news pains me. But I didn’t even think how it must pain those who endure it with a “dreadful sense of deja vu and futility.” I am so sorry for what your brother and family went through and that the endless ripple effect is heightened this way. I hope and pray for all of us that the situation is diffused.

  3. Every time my son has to deploy, I live with a queasiness in my stomach that never leaves until he comes home. Every Sunday my son and every military person I know is put on our prayer list at church. I rarely watch the news. I let my husband do that. It hurts too much to hear the news every day.
    My husband is from the Viet Nam era. When I finally got to visit “The Wall”, I sobbed for quite a while. I was lucky. I got my man back alive and well. It would have helped to know that there were others out there praying for him also. Thank you from me and all the other moms and wives for joining us in our prayers. THANK YOU !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • Nana,
      It’s hard to envision the day-to-day strength it must take to live with that queasiness. I understand why you have your husband handle the news dept. But I’m very glad you have the support of the community around you. And that you support you others. I truly believe that no matter what, we are better together.

      I have never been to The Wall. How incredibly moving to have your husband there, to feel grateful for his presence as you mourn those lost.

      Thank you for all that you and your family do and have done. Please know there are many people who care and that you are not in this alone.

    • Hi Nana, my name is Kyndal. I saw that your son is in the military, I am a big fan and a big supporter and prayer warrior of the military. Hey Nana, hope you won’t mind if I ask you this. Sometime when you get to talk to your son, will you tell him that I say “Thank You” to him for his wonderful service to our country, and that he has my total support and my prayers.

  4. “I would simply prefer an outbreak of world peace.” I love this thought!! Amazing how much anguish and worry one heart can hold as we worry about loved ones throughout the world. I hope you can find some inner peace at least, even if it seems in such short supply everywhere else. Thank goodness for these soldiers who are so willing to help wherever they are asked to serve!!

    • That would be the best “outbreak,” wouldn’t it? 🙂 Thank you for the kind and encouraging words. I will try my best. And yes, I too am grateful for those that help keep us safe no matter where or when they are called to do so.

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